Companies without meaningful innovation fail in reputation

A recent study by the Reputation Institute, in conjuction with Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), reveals that Dutch companies that are able to reinvent themselves stand out positively. This is why Philips and ASML have remained their reputation leadership, while the recent business improvements at KPN and PostNL have resulted in major increases in their reputation too. Financials and oil company Shell are perceived to be less innovative in their business models and face a substantial lower reputation. The report with reputation results for companies in the Netherlands was published on Thursday 18 February 2016, as part of a global reputation research carried out by Reputation Institute in more than 40 countries.

Reputation Institute, which was co-founded by RSM Professor Cees van Riel, annually publishes a reputation ranking of the 30 largest Dutch companies. For the ninth consecutive year, this year’s winner is Philips. No company worldwide has shown such a consistent top achievement. Reputation Institute states that Philips possesses high-tech capacities for innovation and applications of these innovations in products that are relevant for people. In addition, Philips is perceived as mainly active in lighting and consumer electronics, categories that are popular among the general public. And finally, Philips is seen as a true Dutch company which triggers pride among the Dutch. The same feelings of national pride are seen in Denmark with Novo Nordisk, in the USA with Johnson & Johnson, and in Brazil with Braskem.

“Companies that renew their business models in time and above all succeed in providing relevant products and services produced and offered in a socially accepted format, are rewarded with a high reputation that will enable them to lower costs in recruitment, attract capital and benefit from government support,” says Cees van Riel, professor of corporate communication at RSM.

Improving lives through innovation

Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips Electronics, says he feels honoured and proud that Philips has achieved the top position in the Reputation Institute’s ranking for a record ninth time. “As we celebrate our 125th anniversary this year, this award underscores the strength of our brand and reinforces our mission to improve the lives of billions of people every year with meaningful innovations,” said Van Houten. The CEO added: “While the company changes to capture the health technology and lighting opportunities in a rapidly evolving market, our reputation provides a solid basis for future success.”

Job opportunities

ASML is a close runner-up, with a higher reputation score than Philips in five out of twelve months last year. The difference between Philips and ASML is only 0.3 points on a 0-100 scale. ASML’s strength is also expressed in the number one position on all seven reputation drivers. The Reputation Institute’s explanation for ASML’s success is threefold. It says ASML is a world-class company in the area of high tech, that there is hardly any negative publicity about ASML, and that ASML offers new jobs to highly educated people.

Shell has a weaker reputation than last year, with an average score of 58 this year, resulting in a 29th position in the Reputation Institute’s top 30 ranking. While perceptions regarding products and services and financial performance are still positive, the evaluations regarding environmental friendliness, ethical behaviour and fairness in business are truly low.

Business back in order

PostNL recovers from low reputation scores in the last five years and achieves a 70+ score in a couple of months last year. The organisation is as popular as PostNL was in the time of former CEO Peter Bakker with his World Food Programme. According to the Dutch public, PostNL has its business back in order, both in terms of service and internal organisation, states the report.

Banks are showing improved reputations worldwide, but in the Netherlands this trend stays behind, although ING and Rabobank clearly show an upward trend again.

Reputation Institute, in conjunction with RSM, annually presents the reputation results of the Dutch largest companies. The rankings are drawn up using the RepTrak® model, developed by Reputation Institute. This model measures reputations by examining people’s feelings towards companies (the “reputation Pulse”), as well as the rational basis for their opinion stemming from seven “reputation drivers”: 1) products & services, 2) innovation, 3) workplace, 4) governance, 5) citizenship, 6) leadership, and 7) financial performance.

Global reputation research

Each company has been evaluated on the above-mentioned elements by at least 300 people who are familiar with the company. Reputation Institute conducts an online survey on a monthly base to track the reputation of the 30 largest Dutch companies among the Dutch public. Data were gathered among a representative sample from January until December 2015. The survey of the reputations of Dutch companies is part of the global reputation research carried out by the Reputation Institute in more than 40 countries.

The awards for the most reputable Dutch companies were handed out at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague by Prof. Cees van Riel on Wednesday 17 February 2016.

More information

Reputation Institute (New York) is a leading international research and consulting organisation specialising in acquiring, analysing and disseminating knowledge about how best to enhance corporate reputations. By carrying out systematic research and analysis, Reputation Institute helps companies to develop detailed strategies and take operational decisions in the area of reputation management. Reputation Institute has built up a worldwide network of local offices, partners, academics and professionals working in the economic sectors concerned.

For more information about Reputation Institute and the report, please contact Marijke Baumann, head applied research at Reputation Institute, on +31 10 408 2767 or by email at

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s leading business schools, and ranked among the top three for research. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has offices in Chengdu, China, and Taipei, Taiwan.

For more information about RSM, please contact Ramses Singeling, Media Officer for RSM, on +31 10 408 2028 or by email at

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