Companies are increasingly competing in a Reputation Economy —a world where value is created, less by what you make and sell, and more by what you stand for and how you behave.  That requires of corporate executives heightened sensitivity, not just to customers and investors, but to all stakeholders, their needs and expectations.  And that means learning to navigate a complex new world of emotions, perceptions, values, and conflicts.  

In his newly-released book, Wharton School Professor Witold Henisz provides a powerful introduction to the emergent discipline of “corporate diplomacy,” one that has gone largely un-taught in our business schools, and yet is at the heart of value-creation in the Reputation Economy.  With detailed case studies of corporate failures and successes in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, in mining and construction and by the military,  Vit reveals the much-needed skills required of companies struggling to do business in a multi-stakeholder world —and the need for diplomacy and finesse in handling the vagaries of reputation management.  

Of particular interest is the framework he distills from his interviews and experiences —one that points to six all-important topics of managerial skill-building: Diligence in stakeholder mapping, Integration within the organization, Personalization of relationships, Learning from feedback, Openness in communications, and adoption of a long-term oriented Mindset.  The six skills spell out his  framework’s acronym DIPLOM —to which one could wish he had added missing -AT to round things out (sic)! Perhaps that would have led to two more chapters that would have highlighted A for the Active orientation required in stakeholder initiatives and T for the all-important TRUST needed to create and defend reputation.

All told, I enjoyed the book, and I believe Corporate Diplomacy should be must-reading for all CEOs and forward-thinking C-suite executives concerned with creating and defending the inherent value of their corporate and personal reputations in the Reputation Economy.  


Dr. Charles J. Fombrun

Chairman, Reputation Institute


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