2014

The Enron Effect: The American Public's Hostile Attitudes Toward Top Business Managers Large Majorities Think Most Are Overpaid at Expense of Other Workers, And They

Are Angry About It



    ROCHESTER, N.Y., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The corporate scandals -- from
 Enron and WorldCom to Global Crossing and Adelphia -- have had a big impact on
 public attitudes toward top business managers, in general, not just those in
 the companies under investigation. Fully, 87% of all adults believe that most
 top company managers are paid more than they deserve, and that they become
 rich at the expense of ordinary workers. Most (85%) of those who think top
 managers become rich at the expense of ordinary workers are angry about it,
 and 46% are very angry.
     One major indication that attitudes toward business leaders have become
 more hostile as a result of the recent scandals is that two-thirds (66%) of
 all adults believe that rewards in the workplace are distributed less fairly
 today than they were five years ago.
     These are the results of The Harris Poll(R), conducted online by Harris
 Interactive(R) between September 24 and October 2, 2002, among a national
 sample of 2,023 adults, aged 18 or over.  This survey uses the same
 methodology that was used to predict the 2000 presidential election with great
 accuracy.
     While anger at the unfairness of top managers' pay and perks is
 widespread, it is particularly strong among the 37% of the public who say they
 are worse off today than they were five years ago (34% say they are better off
 and 29% say "about the same"). In general the older people are, the more
 likely they are to say they are worse off, and to feel angrier. For example,
 among people aged 18 to 24, a 53% majority says they are better off and only
 21% are worse off.  And only 49% of this age group feels angry about the
 extravagance of top managers' pay (and only 19% are very angry).  However,
 among people aged 65 and over (who feel worse off, by 50% to 12%) fully, 86%
 are angry and 59% are very angry.
 
     An unexploited political issue?
     This big difference among the different age groups has important political
 implications.  Only about a third of all adults will vote in the elections
 this November, and they will be disproportionately older.  Indeed, about half
 of them will be over 50 (about 80% of whom are "angry" that top managers have
 become rich at the expense of their employees).
     This issue would therefore seem to be an easy one for Democratic
 candidates to use against a Republican administration whose tax cuts have
 mainly benefited the rich.  But, with impending military action against Iraq
 dominating the news, the Democrats have not yet exploited this issue.
 
                                    TABLE 1
 
     MOST TOP COMPANY MANAGERS ARE PAID MORE THAN THEY DESERVE
     "Do you think that most top company managers are paid (in salaries and all
 other benefits) . . . ?"
     Base:  All Adults
 
                                 Total
                                   %
      More than they deserve       87
      Less than they deserve        1
      About what they deserve      12
 
 
                                    TABLE 2
     MOST TOP MANAGERS BECOME RICH AT THE EXPENSE OF ORDINARY WORKERS
     "How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Top
 company managers have become rich at the expense of ordinary workers?"
 Base: All Adults
 
                                  Total
                                    %
      Total Agree                  87
      Strongly agree               58
      Somewhat agree               29
      Total Disagree               13
      Somewhat disagree             9
      Strongly disagree             5
 
                                    TABLE 3
                             MOST PEOPLE ARE ANGRY
     "How angry are you that top managers have become rich at the expense of
 ordinary workers?"
     Base: Believe top managers have become rich at expense of ordinary workers
 (87% of adults)
 
                   Total                AGE                        FEEL
                        18-24  25-29  30-39  40-49  50-64  65+  Better Worse
                                                                 Off    Off
                     %     %      %     %      %      %     %     %      %
        Total Angry  85    61     82    86     86     93    93    77     91
        Very angry   46    24     39    39     46     54    64    32     56
        Somewhat
         angry       39    37     43    47     39     39    30    45     35
        Total Not
        Angry        15    39     18    14     14      7     7    23      9
        Not very
        angry        13    37     15    11     10      7     6    20      8
        Not at
        all angry     2     2      2     2      4      1     *     3      1
 
 
                                    TABLE 4
      REWARDS IN THE WORKPLACE ARE DISTRIBUTED LESS FAIRLY THAN THEY WERE
     "Do you think rewards in the American workplace are distributed more
 fairly than, less fairly than or just as fairly as five years ago?"
 Base: All Adults
 
                       Total                       AGE
                             18-24    25-29   30-39    40-49   50-64   65
                         %     %        %       %        %       %      %
          More fairly    7    20        8       7        8       2      3
          Less fairly   66    42       59      62       68      76     76
          Just as
          fairly        27    39       33      31       24      22     21
 
 
                                    TABLE 5
           ARE YOU BETTER OR WORSE OFF THAN YOU WERE FIVE YEARS AGO?
     "Thinking about your financial situation, are you better off than, worse
 off than or about the same as you were five years ago?"
     Base:  All Adults
 
                        Total                      AGE
                             18-24   25-29   30-39   40-49    50-64   65+
                          %    %       %       %       %        %      %
           Better off     34   53      54      42      31       24     12
           Worse off      37   21      24      32      42       43     50
           About the
           same           29   26      22      25      26       33     38
 
 
                                    TABLE 6
 ANGRY THAT TOP MANAGERS HAVE BECOME RICH AT THE EXPENSE OF ORDINARY WORKERS -
                                     BY AGE
                                (AS % OF TOTAL)
     Base: All Adults
                       Total                       AGE
                              18-24   25-29  30-39   40-49   50-64   65+
                        %       %       %      %       %       %      %
              Total
              Angry     74      49      72     76      75      77     86
              Very
              angry     40      19      34     34      41      48     59
              Somewhat
              angry     34      30      38     42      34      33     27
 
     Methodology
     The Harris Poll(R) was conducted online within the United States between
 September 24 and October 2, 2002 among a nationwide cross section of
 2,023 adults.  Figures for age, sex, race, education and number of adults in
 the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their
 actual proportions in the population.  "Propensity score" weighting was also
 used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
     In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95
 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or
 minus 2 percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population
 had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other
 possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more
 serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals
 to be interviewed (non-response), question wording and question order,
 interviewer bias, weighting by demographic control data and screening (e.g.,
 for likely voters).  It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result
 from these factors.  This online survey is not a probability sample.
     These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National
 Council on Public Polls.
 
     About Harris Interactive(R)
     Harris Interactive (www.harrisinteractive.com) is a worldwide market
 research and consulting firm best known for The Harris Poll(R), and for
 pioneering the Internet method to conduct scientifically accurate market
 research. Headquartered in Rochester, New York, U.S.A., Harris Interactive
 combines proprietary methodologies and technology with expertise in
 predictive, custom and strategic research. The Company conducts international
 research through wholly owned subsidiaries-London-based HI Europe
 (www.hieurope.com) and Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan-as well as through
 the Harris Interactive Global Network of local market-and opinion-research
 firms, and various U.S. offices. EOE M/F/D/V
     To become a member of the Harris Poll Online(SM) and be invited to
 participate in future online surveys, visit www.harrispollonline.com.
 
                      Make Your Opinion Count - Click Here
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SOURCE Harris Interactive

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