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Study: Americans Say Business --Not Government-- Holds The Most Power To Create Change

Around 6 in 10 of Americans Say Businesses Are Better Run than Government. Two-Thirds Believe Businesses Bear as Much Responsibility as Government for Driving Positive Social Change.

NEW YORK, Jan. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the world's attention shifts to Washington next week to observe the ushering in of President Barack Obama's second term, a far-reaching new study by Havas Worldwide shows that Americans are deeply skeptical of Washington and are looking to businesses to step in where their elected officials have failed. A majority of Americans believe that businesses are better run than government and are better suited to cope with at least one critical global challenge: climate change. The study also reveals a sharp contrast between the U.S. and the rest of the world: Americans (regardless of political affiliation) believe that paying one's fair share of taxes is one of the most important factors in being a good citizen.

The global study was conducted online among 10,219 adults in 31 countries. This release focuses primarily on responses from the 503 respondents in the United States.

Key findings include:

  • Paying one's fair share of taxes is a more important facet of good citizenship in the United States than in the rest of the world:
    • According to the global survey respondents, the most important factor in being a good citizen today is behaving ethically and responsibly (cited as a top-three factor by 68% of the total global sample), followed by being self-sufficient/taking care of one's family (54%) and being a responsible consumer (36%).
    • However, Americans strayed from the pack in this regard: Whereas they agreed that behaving ethically and being self-sufficient are the most important aspects of good citizenship, they rounded out their top three with paying one's fair share of taxes. Clearly, the notion that the tax burden is unevenly shared has become a sticking point—although it varies a bit by political affiliation: Democrats and Independents cited taxes as a top-three factor, whereas Republicans consider voting a stronger mark of good citizenship than paying one's fair share of the tax burden.
    • Americans also place less import on curbing one's carbon footprint: Globally, a majority of the sample (56%) believe that a person who recycles regularly is a better citizen than someone who votes in every election but doesn't make an effort to reduce his or her waste. In the United States, only 36% of respondents agreed with that statement, with independents least likely to agree (28%) and Democrats most likely to do so (46%).

  • Americans want businesses to step in where government has failed:
    • Two-thirds of Americans believe that the more powerful corporations become, the more obligated they are to behave ethically and with the public interest in mind. Almost as many (73% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans) go so far as to say that businesses bear as much responsibility as government for driving positive social change.
    • Nearly half the total U.S. sample (49%) and 6 in 10 Democrats expect corporations to play an increasingly vital role in addressing the world's major problems. And 51% (65% of Democrats vs. 45% of Republicans) would like their favorite brands/companies to play a bigger role in their local communities.
    • This doesn't mean Americans want their elected representatives out of the picture: 7 in 10 want corporations and government to work together to make the world a better place.

"The study makes it clear that U.S. consumers expect businesses to play a higher role than making goods and generating profits," said Tom Morton, chief strategic officer of Havas New York and co-chief strategy officer of Havas Worldwide North America. "As businesses grow larger and more powerful, they are expected to take on duties that were once the tasks of government. Partly, this is an issue of perceived competence: a majority of Americans surveyed (58% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans) think that, in general, businesses are better run than governments. And 52% (66% of Democrats and 50% of Republicans) think corporations are better positioned than governments to combat climate change.  We're at a point where people think that the world's problems have outgrown the reach and the capability of governments.  It's time for companies to step up."

"People expect more from corporate America than ever before," added James Lou, executive vice president and chief strategy officer of Havas Worldwide Chicago and co-chief strategy officer of Havas Worldwide North America. "Being ethical and minimizing a company's impact on the environment is no longer enough. Americans want real leadership from the business community and real solutions to the pressing challenges we face as a country and as a global community. The good news is that we're unearthing more and more evidence that those companies that come forward to create change and proffer solutions are being rewarded with stronger customer loyalty and improved bottom lines. Doing good has become one of the most reliable pathways to doing well."

To read more insights from the study and download the "Communities and Citizenship: Redesigned for a New World" white paper, visit and follow @prosumer_report on Twitter.

About Havas Worldwide
Havas Worldwide, formerly known as Euro RSCG Worldwide, is a leading integrated marketing communications agency and was the first agency to be named Global Agency of the Year by both Advertising Age and Campaign in the same year. The Havas Worldwide network is made up of 11,000 employees in 316 offices in 120 cities and 75 countries, and provides advertising, marketing, corporate communications, and digital and social media solutions to clients, including Air France, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Danone Group, IBM, Kraft Foods, Lacoste, Merck, Pernod Ricard, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Reckitt Benckiser, Sanofi and Volvo. Headquartered in New York, Havas Worldwide is the largest unit of the Havas group, a world leader in communications (Euronext Paris SA: HAV.PA).

Market Probe International fielded the online survey in summer 2012 among 10,219 adults in 31 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

For more information about Havas Worldwide's global studies, please visit or contact Matt Weiss, global chief marketing officer, at

Jared Kreiner
Havas Worldwide

SOURCE Havas Worldwide

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