THE LEVANT – The Corporate Perception Indicator: A Global Survey from Main Street to the Executive Suite polled 25,000 individuals from the general population and 1,800 business leaders in 25 countries, including the UAE, on their opinions about the role of corporations in society and the economy. International polling firm Penn Schoen Berland, which has its Middle East headquarters in Dubai, conducted the study. In the UAE, 923 online interviews with the general public and 75 with business leaders were conducted from June 28 – August 15, 2014. The poll was conducted in partnership with Burson-Marsteller, the parent company of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, the leading public relations consultancy in the Middle East.
The UAE places a great deal of trust in the country’s national government to guide the economy compared to the global average. More than half (52 per cent) of the UAE general public polled, trust the UAE government most to guide the national economy, more so than academics (11 per cent), entrepreneurs (11 per cent) or corporations (10 per cent). The UAE findings are significantly higher than the global average at 23 percent of the general public.
Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of UAE residents and almost all (95 per cent) of business executives view corporations favorably; however the two groups differ significantly on the type of corporations they trust more. While 62 per cent of the UAE general public trust publicly traded businesses more than they trust privately held corporations; in contrast, 60 per cent of UAE business executives trust privately held businesses more than publicly traded businesses.
Among the survey’s other findings:
Company reputation: The UAE general public believes the technology sector (59 per cent), airlines (54 per cent) and the oil & gas industry (48 per cent) have the best corporate reputation.
Government influence: Over half (51 per cent) say the government has the most influence on their daily life while just 16 per cent say corporates have the most influence.
Corporate social responsibility: Over half of UAE adults (55 per cent) believe corporations do not communicate enough about social responsibility. While one third of UAE adults are looking to hear from corporations about their efforts to be socially responsible, 29 per cent want information about new products and services, and just 13 per cent about their financial performance.
The UAE’s results are broadly in line with the survey’s overall headline findings. The poll uncovered a sharp divide between the developed economies of North America and Western Europe, and emerging economies like China, Russia and Brazil, particularly in people’s disposition toward corporate influence over government, corporate stewardship of the environment, and perhaps most importantly, the role corporations play as engines of job creation and economic growth.
According to the survey, the general public in developed economies has a much more cynical view of corporations compared to the general public in emerging economies. In developed economies, 52 per cent of the general public has a favorable view toward corporations versus 72 per cent of the general public in emerging economies. A deeper dive into those emerging economies finds that the general public and business executives are much more likely to see corporations as a source of hope, rather than fear, when compared to their developed country counterparts.
“We discovered in our initial reporting that there is a serious dearth of data spotlighting the way corporations are perceived from all points of view,” said Nikhil Deogun, SVP & Editor in Chief, CNBC Business News. “These findings will ignite debates and discussions important to CNBC’s audience across all platforms.”
“Six years after the economic crisis hit, this major survey makes clear that, while the reputations of corporations and business leaders are improving, there is still real work to do to dispel doubts about their impact,” said Donald A. Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO of Burson-Marsteller. “The good news is this survey is a corporate compass that points in the direction of even deeper engagement between corporations and their leaders and the broader public about their essential roles in building the economy and improving society.”