Jesus Christ! If I had made this statement in the US, I might have been flogged in public! But think about it, is there any woman in this world who doesn’t lie all the time, who doesn’t cheat people every moment, and who can ever be trusted even for a nano-second? Well, if you’ve reached this part of my editorial, you’ve fallen into the trap I laid for you like sweet unsuspecting daffy duck! The fact is, neither do I believe in my own statement above, nor do I care a hoot about the answer. But I care a billion hoots about ensuring people read my editorials. And if that factor is the critical measure of my performance, I, dear Angelina, have succeeded like nobody’s business. Controversy begets performance! Reputation has no correlation with success.
Shocked? Gulp down the air stuck in your pipe, for indisputable research from across the globe proves this a thousand times over. Check it out! The most path breaking research globally was the one by noted Professors Chung, Eneroth and Schneeweis of the reputed University of Massachusetts. In their paper titled Corporate Reputation and Investment Performance, the stalwarts prove, “There exists little relationship between high corporate reputation rankings and a firm’s equity performance. It is primarily a firm’s equity market performance...that affects published reputation ranking, and ranking has no impact on the firm’s future returns.” To that effect, even Professor Hungtao Tan of Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, in 2007, thumpingly concluded in his report Corporate Reputation & Earnings Quality, “I find no evidence to support that companies with good reputation share superior earnings relative to the corresponding industry levels.”
To the utter consternation of doubting Thomases, global authorities S. Brammer (University of Bath), C. Brooks (Cass Business School) and S. Pavelin (University of Reading), in their classic international December 2005 report, Corporate Reputation and Stock Returns, electrifyingly state, “There is no such thing as bad publicity. We find that those firm’s whose [reputation] scores have fallen substantially still exhibit positive abnormal [stock] returns in both the short and long run!” Famed Doctors Rajiv Sarin and Brit Grosskopf from the Department of Economics, Texas A&M University, in their world class August 2006 thesis, Is Reputation Good or Bad? An Experiment, ruthlessly devastate past notions and establish, “Reputation is not bad, but neither is it as good as previously thought... as long run players are able to do equally well without having reputations.”
And it’s not just about controversies or reputations per se, but even about the pathetically manipulated agendas that ranking agencies globally have. In their universally published covenant (The Reputation Quotient), Dr. Charles J. Fombrun, professor of management at Stern School of Business, and Dr. Christopher B. Foss, Associate Director of the Reputation Institute, state, “Measures of reputation proliferate, encouraging chaos and confusion... Some are arbitrarily performed by private panels... Some are carried out with private information and are unverifiable.” And now, report after report [NYSE CEO Report 2008, SMU Cox CEO Sentiment Survey 2007, PwC Global CEO Survey] proves that CEOs don’t give priority anymore to reputation or to published rankings, but only to performance. Moving ahead, Authorities G. Chen and Dean Tjosvold of Tsinghua University, Beijing, in June 2006, analysed that “participation and people values, coupled with constructive controversy, provide a foundation for effective CEO leadership!”
And why not! The most successful of global CEOs – Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Steven Ballmer, Larry Ellison, Lee Scott – have been those who have been most controversial. The most successful of global companies – WalMart, Chevron, GE, BoA, Citigroup – have been the most controversial. If you thought the amazingly successful movie, Erin Brockovich, ran full house because Julia Roberts ‘controversially’ revealed more than her usual self, you perhaps forget, 30 sickening million gallons of oil spilt in Brooklyn, New York, that led to a historic never-before seen $58 billion class action suit, was targeted at a company that is now the world’s most profitable company ever, Exxon-Mobil (with 2007 sales of $373 billion and profits of $41 billion)! Quick, answer my questions. Most controversial book? You said Da Vinci Code, did you? Or The Satanic Verses? Both historic best sellers. Most controversial brand? Coke? It’s the most valued brand ever! And of course, most controversial group of people? Ah, women, obviously! Aren’t they the very best!!! :-) And don’t we love them like crazy :-)