The Washington Post

More Americans prefer small businesses to large companies, survey finds

Americans believe small business owners to be more ethical and honest than the CEOs of major companies, according to a new survey released Tuesday by the Public Affairs Council, a nonpartisan professional organization whose membership comprises both large and small companies.  The survey was conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International and includes 1,753 respondents and has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

“Nearly half of Americans (47 percent) said small business owners have high ethical standards, compared with only six percent of those who say the same about CEOs of major companies,” the survey found. “Only seven percent say that small business owners have low ethics, compared with 48 percent who think the same of corporate CEOs.”

More people also had a positive opinion of small businesses than larger companies in general, with 90 percent of respondents giving small companies a favorable view, as opposed to 61 percent for major corporations. Only 35 percent have a positive few of the federal government.

In fact, two-thirds of respondents said they prefer to shop at small businesses, even if it means paying more.

The survey’s results also show a strong reaction to the earnings and perceived power of major corporate executives. “Three-quarters of the public...endorse the view that there is too much power in the hands of a few large companies,” the survey says. “And three-quarters think companies do a poor job of reining in executive pay.”

Regardless of ideology, participants agreed that companies should put the interests of customers above those of employees, shareholders, the community and top executives. The majority of respondents also said businesses should take a more active role in providing community services and disaster relief, and that they should play a larger role in improving healthcare and infrastructure.

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