Which is worse: Being “Authentic & Bad” or being “Bad for Being InAuthentic”?

by cv harquail on April 30, 2009

Before reading any further, let’s take a poll:

Which is worse?

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Which organization do you dislike more?

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How do our results compare to the findings of a more comprehensive annual survey of the reputations of US corporations?

"America’s Most Least Reputable Companies"

200904291257.jpg Reputation Institute just released its annual survey that determines the nation’s most respected companies. (The survey is summarized on Forbes.com.) Of the 153 companies in the survey, the bottom two — the two least respected and least liked companies — are Halliburton and AIG.

Authentic & Bad: Halliburton


Halliburton is an organization that is pretty authentic– it is who it claims to be, its actions reflect who it claims to be. And I really dislike Halliburton (even accounting for my dislike of former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney) because I disagree with so much of what Halliburton stands for and the products and services Halliburton sells.

Bad for Being InAuthentic: AIG

200904291255.jpg AIG is a different kind of bad. AIG has a bad reputation now because it was not what it claimed to be…Instead of being a trustworthy, solid-as-a-rock international insurance company and financial adviser, AIG turned out to be speculative and reckless with its (and our) investments.

Confounding our comparisons of Halliburton and AIG are, of course, our level of familiarity with these firms. Many of us have long known of (and perhaps disliked) Halliburton due to its history as a war profiteer and a despoiler of nature. But how many people knew who AIG was, until about 8 months ago?

The Data Speak:

If we take the results of the Reputation Institute survey, being inauthentic is bad, but being authentically bad is worst. AIG is the second most disliked corporation. Halliburton is the most disliked corporation.

How does that compare with our own assessments? Which is worse: being authentic but bad, or being inauthentic? Let’s see….


Joseph Logan April 30, 2009 at 12:21 pm

One seems treatable; the other seems terminal.

jordi April 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Good survey. That is a great distinction. It is tough, but at least authenitic and bad you know where they stand. The inauthentic ones sneak up on society and economy and then explode.
WMDs of institutional trust.

CV Harquail April 30, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Wow. Two comments by two scholars, generating two great phrases to follow up on!

prywatny precel September 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Great blog. I’m impressed how well-written it is.

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