Corporate Reputation Review

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 37–49 | Cite as

Shorting Ethos: Exploring the Relationship Between Aristotle’s Ethos and Reputation Management

  • Ford Shanahan
  • Peter Seele
Original Article


While Aristotle’s ideas in the area of virtue ethics are considered to be among the most prominent in the field, less attention has been given to one of his most crucial and significant texts, On Rhetoric, and the role that virtue plays in reputation management. This article explores the role that virtue plays in moral character, or ethos, which is a critical component of persuasion according to Aristotle. It then identifies how persuasion is critical to reputation repair according to current reputation management theory, and demonstrates how Aristotle’s theories on virtue and ethos underpin many substantive and procedural recommendations for corporate reputation management. We therefore argue in this paper that being ‘short’ on ethos can not only lead to an ethical crisis and reputational damage, it can have a material impact on a corporation’s ability to be effective in recovering from reputational damage.


Aristotle persuasion reputation management rhetoric virtue ethics 



The authors would like to express their sincere appreciation to Prof. Alison Vogelaar, Franklin University of Switzerland, for her invaluable assistance in developing this article. They would also like to thank the Editor and anonymous reviewers for their constructive input that definitively enhanced the article. The article was initially presented at the 25th Annual Conference of the European Business Ethics Network at IESE Barcelona in 2012.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ford Shanahan
    • 1
  • Peter Seele
    • 2
  1. 1.Schwab Flaherty et AssociesGentilino, LuganoSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Marketing and Communication Management (IMCA), USI – University of LuganoLuganoSwitzerland

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