Measuring and bridging the gap between the real and imagined corporate identities

Identity is crucial for companies as it represents their public profile and business culture with which their product or service is constantly linked by consumers. The values that a company adopts are the basis of the company identity because they are what counts for the company, namely the ends or objectives that it aims to pursue.

Despite the importance of identity for economic performance, companies often are not fully aware of their identity. In addition, in many cases the corporate identity that is portrayed by the leaders and managers of a firm (imagined identity) does not correspond to the identity that is perceived by their stakeholders (real identity); if the gap between the imagined identity and the real identity is significant, it causes ineffective business communication, internal and external tensions, and conflicts among the employees in the sharing of the vision and mission of the firm. All these effects negatively influence the economic performance of a company.

Our proposal is to measure the imagined and real corporate identities – and thus their gap – by means of the value index. The value index is an algorithm that integrates and computes the value-key performance indicators, i.e. the measures of the performances that can be conceived as implementations of one or more values that the company has adopted.

The V-KPI are elaborated on the basis of a theoretical framework – called Corporate Value Map – representing the ten typical values of a firm, which are divided into three spheres: economic (profit, capital/assets), moral (respect, responsibility, trust, belongingness, and integrity), and productive (transparency, beauty, and innovation).

By means of a platform of Artificial Intelligence, the value index is applied to the documents and communications of the firm and enables the comparison of them with the documents and opinions of third parties from the social media and also with the results of the surveys investigating the corporate identity and values. The V-KPI and the value index emerge as very useful instruments for companies as they respectively examine in depth the identity shape of a company and provide a concise and comprehensive overview of the corporate identity and its weak points.

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