Thunderbird Most Admired Companies 2018

Why Wealth Is Good For Society

Chinese market (Credit: China Daily)

What do the United States, China, South Korea, and India have in common?

Two things.

They have a relatively high level of admiration for business*, over 44% compared to 31% for the countries below the global average of 37%, as defined by Thunderbird’s GlobalRank™ rating*.

The second is the ‘effect’ of the first: the top 40 global unicorns (billion dollar startups) came from these countries.

The average GlobalRank™ rating across the world is 37%. Above that means the country is managing risk so that the benefits cascade across society and win approval — even tolerating the byproduct, wealthy elites. For example, according to NBER, China has enabled 500 million people to escape poverty as a result of economic growth.

Countries that score below the median implies over-regulation or social condemnation of wealth have put a lid on innovation.

The moral of the story is it’s okay not to admire business, but your country will be poorer for it.

Why Do Country Attitudes Towards Business Differ?

  1. Every country has its own peculiar and uneven rates of technological advancement. This leads to either a pro (entrepreneurial) or anti (cynical) attitude towards business.
  2. Innovation is another key factor. It is praised in some countries and hated in others for a variety of reasons, mostly political and cultural.
  3. Change in market dominance comes at the expense of some and benefits others.
  4. Conclusion: the reputation rating of a bank in one region is going to be very different than a bank in another, both may be world class organizations.


  • The GlobalRank™ score is the percentage of admiration for a Global 500 company (vs. non-admire and undecided).
  • The GlobalRank™ country score is an average for all Global 500 companies in the country, and the combined rating reflects the attitude towards business.


  • Business admiration averages 37% across the world.
  • Only two countries have majorities that admire business: India and Russia.
  • Five countries or regions* have near majorities and are above the median of admiration for business: Scandinavia, Far East Asia and China, Ireland and the United States,
  • Nine countries or regions* have majorities that do not admire or are undecided about business: Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Latin America, Italy, France, Middle East and Africa, Canada, Spain and Portugal, Australia, and the U.K., with the lowest level of business admiration in the world.


  • India (57%) admires business the most of any country
  • Russia at 54% is second
  • Scandinavia is third with 48%
  • Far East Asia and Indonesia (41%) and China (40%) are fourth and fifth in the world
  • The United States (39%) is seventh


“No countries are neutral when it comes to business. Even Switzerland is not Switzerland.”

Regional scores is only an average across the region and outcomes for specific countries may differ.

*According to the IMF, the fastest growing G20 economies are India (7.87%), China (6/25%), and Far East Asia / Indonesia (5.50%). They also represent the strongest admirers of business.

Most Admired Qualities by Country

There are nine qualities which people admire. Every business leader must choose the right proportion according to the tastes of the country, sector, and demographics of the company’s market.


  • Every country has uneven rates of technological advancement and business development, which can result in pro (entrepreneurial) or anti (skeptical) attitude towards business.
  • Innovation can be another source of bias in regional admiration. It raises the standard of living for some and comes at the expense of others.
The nine leadership qualities people admire most

What Qualities People Admire — by Geography

The colors on the map (which correspond to the icons above) represent the top admired quality within each geography ranked as #1.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store