For interested readers, we have appended a note at the end of this chapter that describes in greater detail the methodology that guided our research.
Even Mr. Welch fell victim to public outrage in 2002 following revelations of retirement perks awarded by General Electric judged as unseemly by many critics and uncovered during his high profile divorce proceedings.
A number of major media publish corporate ratings on a regular basis. Fortune’s annual survey of America’s Most Admired Companies (AMAC) is probably the best known of these and has spawned a small industry of followers in publications such as the Financial Times, Asian Business, and the Far Eastern Economic Review. Social ratings agencies like the former Council on Economic Priorities and investment funds like Kinder, Lydenberg, & Domini (KLD) also rate companies on their social performance.
Academics conducting research on corporate reputations have relied heavily on practitioner ratings in their modeling efforts, particularly the Fortune AMAC and KLD ratings. Although everyone routinely acknowledges many limitations to the data, most also acknowledge that it has been difficult to develop a valid, standardized database of corporate reputational ratings (see Corporate Reputation Review, Vol.1, 1997). Unfortunately, the result has been a patchwork quilt of analyses whose inconsistent findings are invariably blamed on methodological shortcomings attributable to measurement issues. Hence our effort with Harris Interactive to systematize the measurement process.