Norway’s most admired companies

22 May 2008

Norwegians chose the Japanese car company Toyota as number one in RepTrak Norway 2008, says Peggy Simcic Brønn, researcher at BI Norwegian School of Management.

For the first time in the five-year history of the Reputation Institute rankings in Norway, not one but four firms are ranked as having excellent reputation (above 80 of maximum 100 rating points).

In an extraordinary upswing four out of 30 firms identified as the most visible in Norway were perceived as having reputations worth designating as superior. Last year’s highest ranking firm, together with IKEA, got a 79.3 rating.

Toyota no. 1 – in line with international rankings

Typical of past rankings, Norwegians once again chose a non-Norwegian firm to head the list of most admired firms in Norway.

Joining the rest of the world in their selection, Norwegians chose the Japanese car company Toyota as number one. This puts Norway in line with the global community who see the Japanese car firm as a world-class company, not only for their products, but for their commitment to the planet.

Toyota has regularly topped Fortune’s Most Admired Global firms, coming in at number 2 in 2006 and 2007 and number 3 in 2008. This is the first year that Toyota was on the radar of Norwegians who were asked which firms they believed had the best and worst reputations in the country.

Norwegian best among the local companies

This airline company is a real Norwegian adventure. If asked, most Norwegian probably would say this firm is only about 6 years old. It seemed to have exploded into the media in 2002 when it decided to go head to head with the gigantic monopolist SAS.

This was followed by a stormy introduction on the stock market in 2003, with its shares at one point selling for less than 8 kroner. The 15-year-old air shuttle almost didn’t live to celebrate its 10th birthday. The firm’s comparison to David and Goliath, coupled with the hard work, perseverance and personality of its flamboyant leader may have contributed to its being ranked above 80 in RepTrak Pulse score.

The firm performed well on the dimensions products and services, innovation, ethics, and finances (ranking in the top in all four areas). However, its management was rated the highest of all firms ranked in the survey.

It is safe to say that management in this case is Bjørn Kjos, a leader whose name is synonymous with Norwegian, not unlike perhaps SAS under the leadership of Jan Carlzon. Both are charismatic leaders whose firms have been successful under their guidance.

Facing challenges

Both Toyota and Norwegian have in common that they are facing issues that will test their reputations.

Toyota’s green image has been challenged by environmentalists questioning their continued production of SUVs and the process employed in making batteries for their hybrids.

Norwegian has recently suffered from disappointing performance on the stock exchange after delivering poor first quarter results in 2008. The public will be watching the actions of both firms’ leaders to see if they are up to handling these challenges satisfactorily.

Last year’s winner Ikea was number 3 this year behind the airline company Norwegian, with neither firm receiving negative nominations. The fourth firm ranking in the 80’s is Coop. Coop has been a steady and solid performer on the RepTrak rankings, maintaining a position in the top five for five years running.

Norway´s flagship firms perform unevenly

Norway’s flagship firms Hydro, StatoilHydro and Telenor all have uneven performance, with StatoilHydro losing ground in the positive perception of Norwegians. More than half of their nominations this year were negative.

As a result the firm moved from number 7 in 2007 to number 12 in 2008. Their overall score of 70.5 translates into an ok but certainly not a great reputation.

Hydro fared somewhat better with their 6th place ranking, but again their 74.6 score should not be satisfying for this firm, not when they were number three for two years in a row in 2004 and 2005.

Telenor performed better in 2008 than in 2007 (from 28th to 22nd) but still maintains a very weak reputation in the eyes of Norwegians; negative nominations for this firm outnumber positive by about 4 to 1.

When it comes to a global presence, Norway currently has only one firm listed on Fortune’s Global Most Admired List for 2008, Statoil, which ranked in the top half of the petroleum refining industry sector at number 6. Exxon Mobil was ranked first.

Both Hydro and Aker are mentioned in the global list, but both are only listed as ‘contenders’, failing to rank in the top half of their industry sectors. Telenor is not mentioned at all while telecommunications firms from Spain, Germany, France, the UK Italy, Japan and China are all listed. The Fortune rankings ask executives, directors and analysts to rate companies in their own industry.

RepTrak Norway 2008 - Most admired companies

Company Reputation score (0-100)
Toyota 84,4
Norwegian 82,9
IKEA 80,8
Coop 80,4
Tine 76,4
Hydro 74,6
Meny 74,5
Rema1000 74,2
Kiwi 74,1
Aker 74,0
Microsoft 71,9
StatoilHydro 70,5
Esso 69,9
Gilde 68,0
Elkjøp 66,9
Chess 66,8
NetCom 64,4
Coca-Cola 63,5
Posten 63,4
NSB 62,1
DnB NOR 61,9
Telenor 61,6
SAS Norge 61,1
Rimi 60,8
Jysk 59,3
Tele2 57,7
McDonald's 52,1
Nextgentel 51,8
Notar 51,1
Lidl 46,4

RepTrak Norway 2008: Published by Apeland informasjon, Reputation Institute and associate professor Peggy Simcic Brønn, BI Norwegian School of Management

RepTrak Norway 2008: A Reputation study of Norways 30 most visible companies. Published by Apeland informasjon, Reputatation Institute and Associate Professor Peggy Simcic Bronn, BI Norwegian School of Management.

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