Influence of global companies strongly felt – especially among African Americans

Shift in the Balance of Power Between Government and Business

> Companies now serve some functions in society previously reserved for government

Agree: 56%
Disagree: 6%
Neither agree nor disagree 30%

> Global companies have a bigger impact on my life than government

Agree: 58%
Disagree: 6%
Neither agree nor disagree: 30%

A majority of American Millennials sense a shift in the balance of power between government and business. As evidence to this, roughly two-thirds of Millennials (65%) agree that companies now serve some functions in society that were previously reserved for government. Further, nearly six in 10 Millennials (58%) believe that global companies have a bigger impact over their lives than government.

What is more, these feelings on the growing influence of companies is felt most intensely among younger Millennials (18-25), females, and African American Millennials. Among these, it is the difference between white and African-American Millennials that is most striking. African-American Millennials are much more likely than their white counterparts to strongly agree that companies serve functions in society previously reserved for government (39% vs. 20%) and strongly agree that global companies have a bigger impact on their life than government (33% vs. 16%).

Companies have a mandate to serve society, yet often fall short of expectations

Companies’ Mandate to Serve Society

>A company’s mission should contribute to society as a whole, not just serve its customers

Agree: 74%
Disagree: 7%
Neither agree nor disagree 19%

> Most companies focus on their own agenda rather than considering the wider society

Agree 73%
Disagree 7%
Neither agree nor disagree 20%

Perhaps because Millennials feel the growing influence business has over society generally, and their own life in particular, a three-in-four majority of Millennials (74%) believe that a company’s mission should contribute to society as a whole, and not just serve customers. However, despite this expectation, three-in-four (73%) also believe that most companies focus on their own agenda and don’t give much consideration to how their policies and actions affect the wider society.

Will this balance of power continue to shift?

Since this poll was fielded in October of 2016, the election of Donald J. Trump and his subsequent appointments of key positions in his administration have made this balance of power between government and business front and center in the media.  Indeed, it will be interesting to follow these trends over the next four years and understand how these events effect Millennials’ expectations for major companies.

Methodology

APCO Insight interviewed 1,566 Millennials (MOE: ±2.5%) between the ages of 16-32 between October 20-31, 2016. Interviews were conducted online. 

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Karen Buerkle

Karen Buerkle, managing director of APCO Insight in Washington, D.C., provides opinion research and analytical services for corporations, governments and nongovernmental organizations. Read More