Europeans give mixed marks for corporate reputation

The best-known firms in Germany, the United Kingdom and France are largely homegrown, reflecting Europe’s still-fragmented local markets, according to a survey published last week in the Wall Street Journal.

The comprehensive survey of corporate reputations among companies in the European Union’s three largest countries – carried out by The Reputation Institute and Harris Interactive – shows that 13 of the 15 companies cited as "most visible" in Germany and France are based in their home countries. In the UK, 11 of 15 are locally based.

The survey showed that the three countries’ citizens tend to admire corporations for different reasons. For many Germans, product excellence is the benchmark of success. The British typically demand more social responsibility from their firms. And in France, honest bookkeeping and financial strength raise a company’s profile.

Overall, Europeans give corporations better marks than Americans, having witnessed fewer corporate scandals in the past few years. This year, 68% of survey respondents graded corporate America’s reputation as "not good" or "terrible," while 42% in the UK and 49% in Germany gave the corporate world an overall negative reputation rating. In France, where companies including Vivendi Universal and Crédit Lyonnais have been embroiled in scandals, the number was closer to the US – 58%.

Notwithstanding such mixed citizen opinion, the survey showed that the most admired companies in each country were these (click image for a more legible view):


Wall Street Journal | Europe’s Home-Team Advantage (subscription required)

You can freely download a PDF of the Journal’s complete report from The Reputation Institute’s website.