Research - 17.09.2015 - 00:00 

GemeinwohlAtlas Schweiz

What contributions do organisations and enterprises make towards the common good of Swiss society? HSG researchers interviewed more than 5,000 people about 177 organisations in German-speaking Switzerland. The results are revealed by the GemeinwohlAtlas at


21. September 2015. What do individual firms, public institutions and NGOs contribute to Switzerland’s common good? This is the question that the GemeinwohlAtlas examines. The Center for Leadership and Values in Society (CLVS-HSG) at the University of St.Gallen conducted a survey with more than 5,000 people in German-speaking Switzerland. The new edition of the atlas shows how 177 (preceding year: 62) organisations in Switzerland, and some of the in the Canton of St.Gallen in particular, are perceived by the general public.

As in the preceding year, two thirds of the interviewees are worried that the issue is not paid sufficient attention in Switzerland. Four in five interviewees indicate that they have a clear idea of what has to be understood by common good, and the same number of interviewees regard common good orientation as crucial to long-term corporate success.

Contribution towards common good

In the latest survey, the team led by Prof. Dr. Timo Meynhardt and Prof. em. Dr. Peter Gomez first determined Switzerland’s biggest and most important organisations. On the basis of expert discussions, regionally relevant organisations in the Canton of St.Gallen were selected additionally. By way of complement, the researches finally included international corporations and important organisations outside the economy. The project team established the general public’s awareness of all these organisations, of which only those that were very well-known were ultimately selected.

In a second data collection, the participants in the study filled in an online questionnaire to rate the 117 selected institutions’ contribution to common good. 102 of these bodies are (intern)national organisations; 15 enterprises are based in the Canton of St.Gallen. The criteria included the organisation’s attainment of its objectives, its contribution towards the quality of life, the moral quality of its business practices and its contribution to solidarity in Switzerland. The ten organisations with the highest ratings are: 

  • Spitex (home care)
  • Rega (air-rescue service)
  • Migros (supermarket chain)
  • Swiss Red Cross
  • Swiss Accident Insurance Fund (Suva)
  • Swiss Federal Railways (SBB)
  • Old-Age and Survivors’ Insurance/Disability Insurance (AHV/IV)
  • Swiss Travel Fund (Reka)
  • Coop (supermarket chain)
  • Federal Office of Police

The complete list of all enterprises and organisations that were surveyed can be found at the website, which also includes explanations about the methodology and the scientific frame of reference of the GemeinwohlAtlas. The results of the study, which is representative of Switzerland’s German-speaking population, show the following:

  • The majority of the organisations are paid a big compliment. In the eyes of a majority of interviewees,  these enterprises and organisations make a stable contribution to common good.
  • The leading group is again primarily made up of public, cooperative or charitable organisations with a Swiss background. The first three are Spitex, Rega and Migros.
  • Swiss banks and foreign corporations are perceived as contributing only little to common good. This also concerns organisations like McDonalds, Facebook and Amazon – all of them companies whose products and services play an important role in the everyday lives of most of us.
  • Besides the newcomers to the atlas, such as Spitex and Rega, there are not any organisations which were able to improve their positions to any particular extent; however, there are some which are looked upon distinctly more critically. They include, in particular, Sika, AMAG, SRF and Kuoni. Reka also lost some ground but still occupies a top position.
  • From an employer’s point of view, it is likely to be interesting that four in five interviewees tend to be prepared to accept a decrease in salary in order to be able to work in an organisation that Champions common good.
  • Added to this, there is the consumers’ view: obviously, common good orientation would also come into its own with regard to shopping. Thus 84% of the interviewees indicate that they prefer products that are conducive to common good and that they tend to be prepared to spend more on them (16% even more than 10% more).

“It is beyond question that the general public has a feel and a high degree of sensitivity for common good issues. In times of great uncertainty, organisations are therefore well advised to address their own contribution to common good. The atlas provides a good entry point for this,” says project leader Timo Meynhardt.

A look at the organisations in the Canton of St.Gallen

The survey concerning the Canton of St.Gallen has resulted in a separate atlas, in which 15 organisations in the canton were assessed by a total of 1,288 people. A very good position was accorded to the St.Gallen Cantonal Hospital, which had not been included in the previous year’s atlas. A particularly strong newcomer to the St.Gallen atlas is the Ortsbürgergemeinde, which came second. Rolling stock manufacturer Stadler Rail is in a good third place, followed by the Government of the Canton of St.Gallen, the University of St.Gallen (HSG), the St.Gallen University of Applied Science, WWF St.Gallen, Bühler, Schützengarten and the regional employment service RAV.

An equally comprehensive study was conducted in Germany. The results will be published at on 30 October 2015.

Bild: Photocase / zettberlin

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