SEPTEMBER 11, 2000
COVER STORY


Business Week/Harris Poll:
How Business Rates: By the Numbers


Survey of 1,035 adults conducted Aug. 25-29, 2000, 1,009 adults conducted June 29-July 5, 2000, 1,010 adults conducted Dec. 9-12, 1999, and 1,004 adults on Feb. 23-26, 1996. Results should be accurate within 3 percentage points. Results for 2000 are from June unless otherwise noted.
NOTE: This is an extended version of the poll that appears in the Sept. 11 issue.

CORPORATE AMERICA: SOME CREDIT, MORE BLAME
 
American business should be given most of the credit for the prosperity that has prevailed during most of the 1990s.
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   26% 42% 19% 10% 2%
1996  
55%*
44%*
 
 
*Question asked only agree or disagree

Business has gained too much power over too many aspects of American life.
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   40% 32% 15% 9% 4%
2000 (June)   52% 30% 12% 4% 2%
1996  
71%*
28%*
 
 
*Question asked only agree or disagree

In general, what is good for business is good for most Americans.
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   14% 33% 27% 22% 4%
2000 (June)   17% 35% 23% 24% 1%
1996  
32%
39%
20%
8% 1%
 
*Question asked only agree or disagree

How much confidence do you have in those running big business?
 
    2000   1999
 
Great deal   19%   15%
Only some   58%   69%
Hardly any   17%   13%
Not sure/No answer   5%   3%

Having large profits is more important to big business than developing safe, reliable, quality products for consumers.
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   38% 28% 14% 17% 3%

GORE'S BIG SCORE.
 
At the recent Democratic convention, Vice-President Al Gore criticized a wide range of large corporations, including "big tobacco, big oil, the big polluters, the pharmaceutical companies, the HMOs." Do you agree or disagree with Gore's sentiments?
 
Strongly agree   39%   Strongly disagree   13%
Somewhat agree   35%   Don't know/No answer   4%
Somewhat disagree   9%        

SECTOR BY SECTOR
 
LOW MARKS FROM CONSUMERS
 
How would you rate these industries in serving their consumers?
 
   
ONLY
POOR
PRETTY
FAIR
GOOD
EXCELLENT
DON'T KNOW/
NO ANSWER
 
HMOs  
43%
28%
15%
3%
11%
Tobacco companies  
43%
30%
14%
5%
8%
Oil companies  
39%
35%
16%
3%
7%
Insurance companies  
32%
41%
21%
3%
3%
Pharmaceutical companies  
27%
37%
26%
5%
5%
Airlines  
22%
41%
25%
3%
9%
Telephone companies  
20%
42%
31%
6%
1%
News organizations  
18%
38%
33%
6%
5%
Hospitals  
15%
35%
38%
9%
3%
Entertainment companies  
14%
33%
38%
9%
6%
Automobile companies   12% 42% 37% 6% 3%
Financial services firms   12% 40% 34% 5% 9%
Computer companies   4% 30% 40% 10% 16%

GOOD PRODUCTS, POOR PRACTICES
 
WHAT CORPORATIONS DO WELL--AND NOT SO WELL
 
How would you rate large U.S. companies on each of the following?
 
Making good products and competing in a global economy
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000   18% 50% 26% 5% 1%
1996   14% 44% 33% 9% *
 
Treating all of their employees well
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   6% 25% 42% 21% 6%
 
Supporting causes I believe in
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   7% 24% 40% 22% 7%
 
Providing quality products and services to American consumers
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   15% 56% 24% 4% *
 
Having ethical business practices
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   4% 33% 42% 19% 2%
 
Educating their consumers on the health and safety of their products
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   8% 31% 38% 19% 4%
 
Having fair and reasonable prices, relative to their profits
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   5% 22% 46% 23% 4%
 
Supporting the U.S. economy with predominantly U.S.-based factories and employees
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   9% 25% 36% 24% 6%
 
Providing job security for employees
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   7% 25% 36% 29% 3%
 
Being straightforward and honest in their dealings with consumers and employees
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (Aug.)   4% 20% 45% 29% 2%
 
Really caring about what is good for America
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (June)   7% 25% 38% 28% 1%
1996   4% 20% 43% 33% 1%
 
Training their employees to give them new job skills
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (June)   10% 40% 31% 12% 7%
1996   8% 31% 40% 19% 1%
 
Providing reasonable wages, salaries and benefits
 
    EXCELLENT PRETTY GOOD ONLY FAIR POOR DON'T KNOW/ NO ANSWER
 
2000 (June)   8% 41% 35% 14% 2%
1996   4% 32% 47% 16% *
 
* Less than 1%

THE DIVISIVE ISSUE OF PAY
 
PAY FOR TOP EXECUTIVES
 
How would you assess compensation of top officers of large U.S. companies?
 
    2000   1996
 
Too much   73%   73%
Too little   3%   5%
Just about the right amount   21%   19%
Not sure   2%   3%
No answer   *   *

YOUR OWN PAYCHECK
 
How would you rate your own pay?**
 
    2000   1996
 
Too much   *   1%
Too little   56%   57%
Just about the right amount   42%   42%
Not currently working for pay (vol.)   *   NA
Not sure/No answer   *   *
 
* Less than 1%
** Asked only of people with jobs
 

HOW CORPORATIONS BEHAVE
 
POLITICAL INFLUENCE
 
How would you rate the power of different business groups in influencing government policy, politicians, and policymakers in Washington?
 
     
TOO MUCH
TOO LITTLE
ABOUT RIGHT
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
Big companies   2000
74%
5%
20%
1%
    1999 82% 8% 3% 7%
 
Small business   2000 2% 78% 19% 1%
    1999 3% 89% 2% 4%
 
Labor unions   2000 40% 20% 37% 3%
    1999 42% 41% 7% 11%
 
Environmental groups   2000 26% 35% 36% 2%
 
Religious organizations   2000 27% 36% 34% 3%

How much influence do you think that campaign contributions made by big business have on politics in America?
     
Too much   84%
Too little   2%
Just about the right amount   13%
Not sure/No answer   1%

POPULAR CULTURE
 
Entertainment and popular culture are dominated by corporate money which seeks mass appeal over quality.
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   45% 37% 11% 4% 4%
 
Entertainment and media companies do a good job of creating products that many people want to buy and enjoy.
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   32% 46% 13% 8% 1%

ADVERTISING TO CHILDREN
 
Companies should be allowed to show commercials for brand name products in school in exchange for giving the school money and supplies.
 
    AGREE DISAGREE NOT SURE/
DECLINE TO ANSWER
 
2000   36% 60% 4%
 
Marketing and advertising puts too much pressure on children to buy things that are too expensive, unhealthy or unnecessary.
 
    AGREE DISAGREE NOT SURE/
DECLINE TO ANSWER
 
2000   85% 14% 1%
 
Advertising is a good way for children to get accurate information about products.
 
    AGREE DISAGREE NOT SURE/
DECLINE TO ANSWER
 
2000   32% 66% 2%

BRAND NAME DOMINANCE
 
Large brand-name companies typically grow by squeezing out local business.
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   53% 34% 9% 3% 1%
 
The same large brand-name companies have begun appearing in many American cities reducing unique local variety and character
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   28% 47% 16% 4% 4%
 
Large brand-name companies provide a consistent product and quality that often cannot be found in local business.
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   15% 40% 28% 15% 2%
 
Large brand-name companies usually offer lower prices than many local businesses.
 
    AGREE
STRONGLY
SOMEWHAT
AGREE
SOMEWHAT
DISAGREE
DISAGREE
STRONGLY
NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   26% 43% 19% 10% 1%

THE ENVIRONMENT: WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?
 
Let's say there were four research scientists-one from the federal government, one from a corporation, one from an environmental organization, and one from a university-each expressing a different point of view about a major environmental issue. Which scientist would you be inclined to believe?
     
Environmental group   31%
Federal government   7%
A Corporation   5%
A University   51%
Not sure/Decline to answser   6%

How much do you trust each of the following to protect the quality of our nation's environment?

Federal environment agencies like the EPA
 
    A GREAT A DEAL MODERATE
AMOUNT
A SLIGHT AMOUNT NOT AT ALL NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   17% 48% 24% 11% 1%
 

Large corporations

 
    A GREAT A DEAL MODERATE
AMOUNT
A SLIGHT AMOUNT NOT AT ALL NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   4% 27% 37% 30% 1%
 

National environment organizations

 
    A GREAT A DEAL MODERATE
AMOUNT
A SLIGHT AMOUNT NOT AT ALL NOT SURE/
NO ANSWER
 
2000   22% 45% 22% 8% 1%

BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE
 
Which of the following statements do you agree with more strongly?
 
    2000   1999
 
U.S. corporations should have only one purpose --to make the most profit for their shareholders-- and their pursuit of that goal will be best for America in the long run.

  4%   5%
U.S. corporations should have more than one purpose. They also owe something to their workers and the communities in which they operate, and they should sometimes sacrifice some profit for the sake of making things better for their workers and communities

  95%   95%
Not sure/No answer   1%   0%



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