Fortune has reassembled their "Most Admired Companies" list. BASF was atop the chemical company list, but I don't think that is then accurate to call it the "Most Admired Chemical Company". Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but I don't think you would get much of a list if you asked people (business leaders or otherwise) "What is the most admired chemical company?" Public perception of the industry is just too low to assemble much of a list. It would be like asking for "most admired politician" or "most admired lawyer". I would write the headline differently: Amongst chemical companies, BASF is most respected.
I mean no disrespect towards BASF or anyone else on the list, but this is a case of reinterpreting results.
It's not that they asked people out on the streets:
"To create the top 50 overall list of Most Admired Companies, Hay Group asked 4,047 executives, directors, and securities analysts who had responded to the industry surveys to select the ten companies they admired most"
I agree that they didn't ask Joe the Plumber, but the link you provided has a couple of lines in it that I think help prove my point From the 5th paragraph: "Anyone could vote for any company in any industry. The difference in the voting rolls is why some results can seem anomalous-for example, Toyota is one of the top ten Most Admired Companies, but only second in its industry to BMW, which ranked 28th on the top 50."
My point is that they asked one question, but when they reported the answers, there was some spin on it. Given the contradiction noted by Fortune, I question all the "conclusions" they reached.
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