Yesterday we posted on some of the political findings in Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007, just released by the Pew Research Center.

Today we'll look at Americans' attitudes about corporations and business. As cause marketers and fundraisers, the bottomline for us in this data is that harnessing the power of corporations to reach and motivate people is a strategy that nonprofits must consider as one of the arrows in their quiver.

The public doesn't believe that corporations always operate in the public interest; but nor do they reflect a knee-jerk anti-corporatism. They observe that corporations can be forces for good or ill … and they seem to make judgments case by case as they watch the public behavior of individual companies.

But again, this is a very substantial piece of “must read” research. Herewe can only tease you with some of the topline findings …

  • Fully 72% of Americans agree that “the strength of this country today is mostly based on the success of American business” … an opinion — shared across major demographic groups and political affiliations — that has changed very little over the past 20 years. Interestingly, those under age 30 agree the most, at 82%.
  • And 57% agree that “government regulation of business usually does more harm than good” … an opinion shared across political lines.

That's the good news for business. But reflecting its intrinsic wariness, the public also has some critical views …

  • 65% agree that “business corporations make too much profit” … ranging from 54% of Republicans to 68% of Independents and 70% of Dems.
  • Only 38% agree that “business corporations generally strike a fair balance between profits and the public interest” … Dems and Independents are much more critical in this regard.
  • And 76% believe too much power is concentrated in the hands of a few big companies … again, Dems are more likely to have this opinion.
  • When it comes to overall ratings of corporations, 57% of the public express a favorable opinion. Generally, younger people, those with more education, and Republicans have the most favorable opinions.

Pew asked respondents to rate 23 specific companies. Seven received favorability ratings of 90% or more — Johnson & Johnson (at #1), Google, Southwest Airlines, Microsoft, Home Depot, Dell Computer, and Apple Computer (based on respondents able to give a rating).

Bringing up the rear were ExxonMobil and Halliburton, with 53% and 45% favorability ratings, respectively. Halliburton is also the least known of the companies … unfortunately for Halliburton, to know them is to dislike them. Why is The Agitator not surprised?!

Roger & Tom

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