More than six in 10 Americans (63%) believe businesses overall have a somewhat or extremely positive impact on people’s lives, marking a seven-percentage-point increase since 2022, according to a survey from Bentley University and Gallup.
When asked about small and large businesses specifically, 85% of Americans report small businesses have a somewhat or extremely positive impact on people’s lives, compared with 42% who say the same about large businesses.
Results for the Bentley-Gallup Business in Society study are based on web survey responses collected May 8-15, 2023, from 5,458 U.S. adults via the Gallup Panel.
Americans Less Positive About Businesses’ Impact on the Planet/Environment
A slim majority of Americans, 52%, think businesses’ impact on people’s wellbeing is somewhat or extremely positive, but they are less positive about the impact businesses have on the planet/environment. Just 22% of Americans believe businesses have an extremely or somewhat positive impact on the environment, consistent with the 21% who said the same in 2022.
Americans View Government as Having Most Power to Make an Impact
Of four groups asked about, majorities of Americans believe that two have “a great deal” of power to make a positive impact on people’s lives -- the federal government (60%) and state and local governments (58%). Smaller percentages say the same of businesses/companies (39%) and charitable/advocacy organizations (21%).
While Americans see charitable/advocacy organizations as the least powerful of the four groups to positively impact people, they are viewed as the most effective at doing so, with nearly eight in 10 rating them as extremely (18%) or somewhat (60%) effective. Businesses are seen by 58% of U.S. adults as effective at positively impacting lives, while nearly as many, 55%, say the same of state and local governments. The federal government (43%) is viewed as the least effective of the four groups at making a positive impact.
Americans’ attitudes toward businesses have improved since 2022. And consistent with prior Gallup research, U.S. adults hold especially favorable views of small businesses.
While Americans believe businesses have the power to make a positive impact on people’s lives, they rate their effectiveness at doing so as worse than charitable/advocacy organizations and barely better than state and local governments. This research suggests Americans believe businesses have untapped potential to act as a force for good in their lives, communities and society more generally.
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