Corruption concerns in developing world pose challenge for business

While problems such as the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone, climate change, and unrest in the Middle East preoccupy governments around the world as 2012 begins, GlobeScan’s regular monitoring of global concern over a range of issues highlights that it is more immediate and everyday problems that are often at the forefront of citizens’ minds.

In GlobeScan’s annual tracking research, corruption once again emerges as one of the global problems considered to be most serious. It is also the problem that citizens are most likely to cite when asked which global problems they have discussed with their friends and family over the past month.

As this map shows, corruption tops the list of “most talked about” problems in a range of developing and emerging economies, including Peru in South America, Ghana and Egypt in Africa, Turkey in Europe, and India and Indonesia in Asia. Corruption is also often cited as a barrier to getting to grips with many of the other global problems that, as GlobeScan’s tracking shows, preoccupy many global citizens.

Taking a strong and public stand against corruption will be an important element in what businesses need to do to demonstrate their relevance to citizens’ lives, help build public trust, and maintain their social licence to operate.

 

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011 

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

Public respect falls for nine of twelve industrial sectors

At the end of 2011, the external environment for business has rarely been more challenging. With the Eurozone crisis unresolved, the economic headwinds that have been afflicting most of the world’s industrialised economies continue to blow – and recent data on Brazil’s economy in the last quarter suggest they may be spreading to the BRIC economies that until now have been enjoying buoyant economic growth. At the same time, pressure to regulate to ensure environmental and social responsibility is on the rise.

GlobeScan’s tracking of public respect for business across a number of sectors illustrates that at a time when consumers have little to spend and jobs are scarce, businesses are finding it hard to retain public esteem. In nine of the twelve sectors that GlobeScan tracks, respect has fallen across twelve developed and developing economies, with falls particularly sharp for food (with prices on the rise), banking (suffering from diminished consumer trust since the bailouts in 2008) and oil (thanks to a combination of high prices and environmental impact worries).

To regain consumer respect, these sectors will need to show in 2012 that they are able to deliver affordable products and services in tough economic times, while keeping one step ahead of consumer expectations on social and environmental responsibility.

 

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011 

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

GlobeScan and the Haas Center for Responsible Business release: The Future of Finance

“Inclusive Innovation” Offers Opportunity for the Financial Sector to Grow and Re-engage with Society: New Report Download the Future of Finance Report (PDF) 16 December 2011 – Global banking and financial sector experts see opportunities for the financial sector to grow and re-engage with society through “inclusive innovations,” a new report launched today, The Future of Finance, has found. Economic and regulatory uncertainty in many countries, and a degree of popular resentment exemplified by protests and a decline in reputation, presents … “GlobeScan and the Haas Center for Responsible Business release: The Future of Finance”

Precipitous decline in optimism that technology can address climate change

As the Durban UN summit struggles to reach an agreement that will keep climate change within acceptable limits over the next decades, GlobeScan tracking reveals that the public in much of the world is losing faith that there will be a technological solution to the problems posed by a changing climate.

The optimism that developing nations, in particular, felt that the same technological innovation that was helping to drive strong economic growth in their countries would also solve climate change with minimal changes to human behavior, appears to have waned significantly, with major falls in confidence in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Kenya, and Pakistan.

These falls are mirrored in developed economies such as the UK, USA, and Spain, which were already more pessimistic that painful lifestyle adjustments could be averted in tackling climate change. If well-founded, this pessimism only underlines how critical it is that governments achieve a strong emissions-reduction agreement in Durban.

 

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

Sense of Global Citizenship Declines in Major Nations

There has been a marked decline in people’s sense of global citizenship in the last two years in three of the world’s major economies—China, the UK, and the USA.

While GlobeScan’s latest findings indicate that a sense of global citizenship is on the rise in many emerging economies across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the ongoing economic malaise affecting the G7, the lack of progress on a new global free trade agreement, and the rekindling of doubts about the future viability of the global free market system may be among the factors that are depressing citizens’ sense of belonging to the global community in these three countries. In the UK, this year’s drop represents the continuation of a decline that started in 2007.

Nevertheless, the proportion of Chinese who see themselves as global citizens remains the highest of any country polled—62%. For a country that has spent much of its history seeking to isolate itself from the rest of the world, this is a striking turnaround.

 

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

Greater Climate Concern in Developing Nations Persists

GlobeScan’s tracking survey reveals that public concern about climate change has been volatile since the 2009 Copenhagen summit’s failure to agree to a global deal to reduce carbon emissions—but concern continues to be higher in developing than in developed countries.

This reflects our 2010 Greendex survey of 17 countries, where British, Swedish, German, and American respondents showed the lowest levels of agreement with the proposition “global warming will worsen my way of life within my own lifetime,” while Brazilian, Indian, and Chinese respondents showed high levels of agreement. This may reflect the greater potential for catastrophic events such as natural disasters to impact people’s lives in developing nations.

This decline in concern about climate change may result from increasing feelings of urgency about other social and economic issues overshadowing long-term concerns about the environment. In 2011, corruption, extreme poverty, the rising cost of food and energy, and terrorism emerge as greater preoccupations on a global level than climate change.

Particular factors that are likely to be behind the decline in the perceived seriousness of climate change in developed countries between 2000 and 2003—and again in 2010—are the impact of the September 11 attacks, the subsequent conflicts in the Middle East, and the global economic downturn. The widely publicized “Climategate” controversy is also likely to have been a factor.

France, Japan, and the USA have seen continuing decreases in the perceived seriousness of climate change over the past three years. Under the influence of the ongoing economic slowdown—and of the Fukushima disaster—climate change has lost attention in some major economies, and is slow to regain it.

Over the past year, however, climate change has recovered its position as an issue of serious concern in some developed and developing countries, particularly in Ecuador, Peru, Turkey, and Russia.

 

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

No rebound in global optimism in sight

In a week when the stability of the global economy was once again called into question, with European political leaders meeting to seek a solution to the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone, GlobeScan’s tracking data shows that the public in many countries remains deeply pessimistic about the future of the planet.

For over ten years, GlobeScan has been monitoring the degree to which people around the globe feel that “the world is going in the right direction.” On average, less than one-third of those polled have endorsed this view in recent years. This year’s findings show that there has been no rebound in optimism—and indeed that confidence in the way the world is heading has taken a further knock in many of the world’s major economies.

Less than a fifth (19%) of Americans now feel that the world is going in the right direction, compared to more than half back in 2001. Only 14 per cent of Japanese feel the same way. Just one in ten in Spain, one of the countries at the eye of the Eurozone storm, and fewer than a quarter of UK respondents are optimistic about the world’s direction—a figure that has fallen continually since 2006.

Optimism is markedly higher in emerging economies such as China, where 65% think the world is headed in the right direction, and Indonesia (43%)—but in both of these countries the trend is also downwards. Only in a few developing and middle-income countries—Peru, Russia, Turkey, and Nigeria—is optimism on the increase. With concern on many global issues very high, and trust in institutions low, it may be that the public perceives a sense of drift and absence of leadership in dealing, not only with the economic crisis, but also with such problems as climate change, the spread of disease, and terrorism.

 

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

Respect for banking sector remains high in China and India

In contrast to the banking industry’s declining reputation in the UK and US, where public anger against the finance industry has been seen in drawn-out public protests, GlobeScan tracking reveals that respect for the sector’s reputation remains relatively solid in China and India.

The data shows that while Britons’ and Americans’ respect for banks and financial companies is falling, the industry’s reputation has not suffered the same fate in China and India. In fact, Indians have become increasingly likely to say they respect the banking sector—almost half (49%) now say they do, compared to 39 percent in 2008. Public esteem also remains strong in China despite a slight decrease in the past year.

Banks, and the economy in general, have fared relatively well in India and China—counteracting the negative trend seen elsewhere. New investments by Indian banks such as installing ATMs and establishing new offices throughout the country have created jobs and better services and improved the sector’s reputation.

Higher levels of respect for banks and financial companies in China and India also reflect relatively positive views there of the sector’s social performance. When asked how well they fulfill their responsibilities to society compared to other types of companies, Chinese and, in particular, Indian respondents rate the industry more positively; 58 percent of Indians and 33 percent of Chinese rate banks and finance companies “among the very best” or “above average,” compared to 14 percent, each, of Americans and Britons.

 

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

Public respect for the banking sector reaches new low

As the Occupy Wall Street protests continue, public respect for the banking sector has reached a new low in the US and UK, GlobeScan tracking reveals.

The findings show that a majority of Americans (55%) now say they have little or no respect for the banking sector. Banks are even more poorly viewed in the UK, where 63% say they have little or no respect for them.

This represents a steep decline in public respect for the banks since 2005, when just 25% of Americans and 36% of Britons said they had no respect for them. And while respect for the sector has been on the decline since then, the banking crisis of 2008 seems to have accelerated the loss of public esteem.

The decline in the banking sector’s reputation is being accompanied by increasing calls for governments to step in and regulate it more closely. GlobeScan found in 2010 that two-thirds of Britons (66%) felt that there was insufficient government regulation of the banking sector – higher than in any other country polled. But nearly half of Americans (48%) also felt that banks needed to be more tightly regulated.

 

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)

Ethical Consumers Preferring the Carrot Over the stick

The latest GlobeScan tracking data suggest that a shift may be taking place among ethical consumers, from a focus on punishing irresponsible companies to one characterized by rewarding those companies seen as socially or environmentally responsible.

Since the early years of the last decade, there has been a marked increase in self-reported rewarding and punishing of companies on ethical grounds by consumers across 14 developing and industrialized countries. The numbers punishing companies have been much more volatile, however, likely driven by the periodic emergence of high-profile scandals affecting individual companies. But since 2005 such punishment, rather than reward, has been the dominant expression of ethical consumerism.

This picture now appears to have changed, with the numbers punishing companies for bad practices falling away, while those rewarding responsible companies remain stable. This is probably a consequence, at least in part, of increased consumer choice of ethical products in many sectors—though economic factors may also be at play in the sharp decline in those refusing to buy from irresponsible companies.

 

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 1, 2011

For more information on this finding, please contact Sam Mountford (Read Bio)