Study: Global firms win image contest

Multinational companies are more likely to enjoy a reputation for socially responsible practices than domestic-only firms, a study by the worldwide market-research firm Echo Research found.

BPAmoco, Ford, The Body Shop, McDonald's, Groupe Danone, and Nike were ranked in that order as having the highest reputations for good corporate citizenship. Researchers interviewed 30 opinion leaders in the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia. They also tracked news coverage of multinational companies last year.

There are, however, differences in how companies approach social responsibility, depending on where they are headquartered. Avoiding regulation was listed as the main motive many European firms adopt a socially responsible approach, while a tradition of philanthropy drove US-based companies to do so. The survey also also found a difference in shareholder attitudes. For example:

* In the UK, emphasis is not just on donations, but on engaging in a dialogue with social groups.

* In France, there are concerns about corporate-citizenship programs supplanting social services.

* In the US, shareholders tend to pick companies for short-term financial considerations rather than social ones.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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