Fri, Dec 10, 2004 - Page 11 News List

For Taiwan firms, bigger equals better, survey says

STABILITY VALUED A pan-Asian survey on which factors are most sought in a company found that Taiwan differs from most in valuing size over brand and quality

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Size matters. That's the conclusion reached by an annual study on what makes a company stand out in Taiwan, released yesterday by the public relations firms Edelman. Company size comes first as the attribute that most differentiates a corporation from its competitors, while a company's profitability trails behind other factors.

"The first thing [stakeholders] look to is size," Alan VanderMolen, president of Edelman's Asia Pacific region, told reporters in Taipei. "Big equals good."

Citing the survey the company conducted in nine Asia Pacific markets between July and September this year, VanderMolen said 23 percent of Taiwanese respondents place "company size" in front of brand and product quality, management, corporate culture, corporate image and profitability, when asked what they think makes companies stand out from the pack.

That result is four times larger than the average response across the region. In contrast, only 10 percent in Taiwan care about whether companies' finances are strong, according to the survey.

VanderMolen contributed the interesting phenomenon to the fact that local respondents, after having experienced the nation's economic heyday in past decades, now highly value stability in a business entity.

Edelman's second annual survey covered six stakeholder groups, including government officials, senior business executives, NGOs and trade associations, high-end consumers, media and employees in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore.

With the premise that relationships with key stakeholders are critical to driving business outcomes, Edelman interviewed a total of 540 respondents to examine the current business and communications environment for corporations, the drivers of stakeholder opinions of corporations and how social factors play into relationships.

As the survey reveals, business intangibles such as corporate social responsibility and customer relationships have seen a big jump in terms of importance from a year ago.

"Clearly, stakeholders are increasingly focused on how corporations treat their customers and communities," he said.

Thirty-six percent, up from last year's 29 percent, believe corporations must be active in contributing to community welfare.

Interestingly, profit-driven factors have seen a significant slide on the list, with just 49 percent saying responsible businesses should provide profits for their owners and shareholders, down from last year's 58 percent.

At the same time, those who say these companies should make products that really impress consumers dropped to 44 percent from 58 percent a year ago.

In Taiwan, stakeholders hold a higher regard for multinational corporations than local firms. Pharmaceutical companies must work hard to improve their corporate image as respondents rate them as the least trustworthy.

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