For the first-ever CNBC/Burson-Marsteller Corporate Perception Indicator, research firm Penn Schoen Berland surveyed more than 25,000 individuals from the general public and over 1,800 business executives in 25 markets. So how do your views about the role of corporations in society measure up against the survey respondents’? Take this quiz to find out which market's population most shares your views.
1. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of corporations?
- a. Big companies
- b. Money
- c. Profit
- d. Greed
2. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the government?
- a. Taxes
- b. Corruption
- c. Thieves
- d. Incompetence
- e. Angela Merkel
3. Which of the following do you trust most to guide the economy?
- a. Government
- b. Corporations
- c. Small business
- d. I don't know.
4. Do corporations have too much, too little or just the right amount of influence over our economic future?
- a. Too much
- b. Too little
- c. Just the right amount
5. Thinking about the role of corporations in the future, which is closer to your view?
- a. Corporations are a source of hope.
- b. Corporations are a source of fear.
6. If a corporation is American, does that generally make you more favorable or less favorable toward it?
- a. More favorable
- b. Less favorable
- c. I don't know.
7. If a corporation is Chinese, does that generally make you more favorable or less favorable toward it?
- a. More favorable
- b. Less favorable
- c. I don't know.
8. Who are the most respected people in society?
- a. Corporate CEOs
- b. Heads of government
- c. Professional athletes
- d. Clergy
9. Which is more important in preparing people for jobs?
- a. The education system
- b. The on-the-job training one gets working in a business
- c. I don't know.
10. Which of the following would you prefer to work for?
- a. A big corporation
- b. A midsize company
- c. A small business
- d. Myself
The Dutch think “taxes” when they think of government, which is one of the more positive things survey respondents have to say about their leaders. Basically, the Dutch general public is a little more split on their views of corporations and are more likely to answer “I don’t know” than people in other parts of Western Europe. On the question of corporations’ influence over their economic future, 26 percent say they have too much, 21 percent say too little, 27 percent say just the right amount and 26 percent answered “I don’t know.”
One thing is clear in the land of the Rising Sun and the home of Abenomics: Japanese do not like Chinese companies. A whopping 87 percent of Japan’s general population says they have a less favorable view of a corporation if it is Chinese—far more than most of the markets surveyed. But Japanese have some things in common with Chinese, too, including a respect for government leaders and a view of corporations as a source of hope for the future.
When most Germans think about government, they think Angela Merkel, the woman who’s led Germany since 2005. Still, only 22 percent of Germans count Ms. Merkel among the most respected people in their society, compared with 30 percent who say “professional athletes.” Germans have one of the lowest opinions of American corporations, with 59 percent saying they have a less favorable view.
Seventy-three percent of Indians see corporations as a source of hope vs. fear. Only Indonesia (87 percent), China (84 percent) and Malaysia (78 percent) are more hopeful. Along those lines, Indians are also more positive about the role government and corporations play in shaping the country’s future; 42 percent say they trust the government most to guide the economy, and 46 percent say corporations have the right amount of influence over India’s economic future.
Russia is the only country other than China where the majority has a more favorable view of Chinese corporations. Thirty-seven percent of Russians trust their government to guide the economy, and 36 percent say Vladimir Putin is among the most respected people in Russian society. And yet “corruption” is the first thing that comes to mind when most Russians think of Mr. Putin’s government.
China’s general public has some of the most favorable views of corporations compared to the other global markets surveyed. Two-thirds of Chinese say corporations have the right amount of influence over the country’s economic future, and 37 percent say they trust corporations most to guide the economy. The Chinese also love American corporations, with 63 percent saying they have a more favorable view of a corporation if it is American.
Spaniards fear corporations and love professional athletes. Like much of Western Europe, the general public in Spain says corporations have too much influence over the country’s economic future; they are more trusting of entrepreneurs to guide the economy. But they’re also more undecided than their neighbors to the north, in France, with “I don’t know” as the top answer on many views toward corporations, and a split decision when it comes to whether education or on-the-job training is more important in preparing its citizens for jobs.
It’s clear the public sector plays a big role in Turkey’s economy. Of the general population in Turkey, 31 percent says it trusts the government most to guide the economy, and the first thing that comes to mind for most Turks when they think of corporations is “public institutions.” Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also got a lot of love and respect from Turkish respondents, including 25 percent who said the head of government is the most respected person in society.
A third of the British public doesn’t know who to trust to guide the economy, and like most developed countries, the U.K. is skeptical of corporate influences over the government. The British are the most split of all global markets surveyed on the question of whether corporations are a source of hope or fear for the future: 34 percent say fear, but 33 percent say hope, and the remaining 32 percent don’t know.
America’s neighbors to the north are harboring a surprisingly unfavorable view of American corporations. Forty-eight percent of Canadians say they have a less favorable view of a corporation if it is American. That’s one of only a few differences between the general population in the U.S. and Canada in the survey. Another: Professional athletes are the most respected people in Canadian society, while clergy take the top spot in the States.
“Incompetence” is the first thing that comes to mind when French people think of their government. That view sets the French apart from other Western European countries (though it’s not as if other Europeans are in love with their governments, either). Like their neighbors in Germany, a high number (48 percent) have a less favorable view of American corporations.
Like many people in developed countries, Americans are leery of corporations’ influence on government and more likely to trust small businesses or entrepreneurs to guide the economy. Maybe that’s why 36 percent of Americans say they would prefer to work for themselves, with another 18 percent saying they’d prefer to work for a small business.
The United States is 1 of only 3 countries where more say the clergy are among the most respected people in society versus any other group. Only Indonesians (59 percent) and Colombians (31 percent) have a higher regard for their clergy.
More than half (54 percent) of Mexicans say they would prefer to work for themselves, which may be why 29 percent put their trust in entrepreneurs to guide the economy. Still, 30 percent say they’d prefer to work for a large corporation, and 55 percent see corporations as a source of hope. That may include American corporations; 58 percent say they have a more favorable view of a corporation if it is American.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when Italians think of their government? Thieves! And corporations? Fiat. Italians have a more favorable view of American corporations compared to their European Union counterparts in Germany and France. And the Catholic country holds its clergy in high regard, with 27 percent saying they are the most respected people in society.