The world’s most engaged citizens say that while they personally embrace global trade and corporate investment in their homeland, they want their governments to crack down more aggressively on the activities and influence of national and multinational corporations, according to a new survey conducted by Ipsos North America.
The poll, which surveyed 20 of the world’s leading and burgeoning economies, indicates an environment of public opinion that puts global and national corporations at risk from potential government interventions and tighter regulatory incursions because its most engaged citizens will back such moves.
The survey shows a full majority (71 percent) of the most engaged citizens—selected because of their involvement and societal impact within their country—believe foreign companies have too much influence over the economy in their country, and even more (75 percent) believe their government should be more aggressive in regulating corporations.
“What makes these findings vital for corporations to heed is that the population surveyed represents the movers and shakers of public opinion in these countries,” says Darrell Bricker, co-director of global public affairs for Ipsos. “For international business players seeking ‘permission’ to operate, these are the opinion gate-keepers, and the reputation of a company, a sector, or even a nation can predispose them to a particular position of either granting permission or tightening it.
“These active, Internet savvy social networking citizen-consumers are the most engaged and involved people you will find in these societies—they are the public opinion vanguard that shapes the environment within which other citizen-consumers participate and are influenced. As such, we call them the ‘Intelligaged,’ public opinion shapers that must be anticipated and measured on the dimensions of risk associated to an organization’s reputation and its operations.”
But, despite their current views on having their governments step up the controls on companies within their countries, these engaged individuals are actually global trade and corporate investor supporters. In fact, among other findings, 91 percent believe that expanding global trade is a good thing, another 81 percent say investment by global companies in their country is essential for their growth and expansion, and two-thirds (63 percent) agree that overall, globalization is a good thing for the world.
“These people are not talking out of both sides of their mouth,” Bricker concludes. “Most are real or potential kindred allies for organizations at the macro level, but they’re deeply concerned right now with what’s happening in their own backyards and want their governments to use their powers to rein some things in.”