In total, 7802 persons aged between 19 and 91 years and living in Germany were surveyed. If the respondents knew at least three of the listed organizations, they were invited to evaluate the public value contribution of the randomly selected individual organizations according to the four dimensions: quality of life, task fulfillment, social cohesion, and morality.

The market and opinion research institute forsa conducted the survey for the Public Value Atlas Germany 2015 within the scope of forsa.omninet durchgeführt. The latter is a representative panel of the German-speaking population from the age of 14 years. It currently has 30,000 participants, which allows for in-home surveys via the PC or television screen. This survey method combines the advantages of telephone, on-line based, and personal interviews in one system. A representative random sample was drawn from this panel.

Based on the ADM telephone master sample, the panel participants are recruited by means of multistage random sampling, and exclusively off-line by means computer-assisted telephone interviews in the context of a daily multi-topic household survey. Self-selection of participants, as is the case with online panels, is thus ruled out (one cannot “apply” to become a participant). In contrast to the conventional online panels that most institutes offer, also non-Internet users participate in forsa.omninet; consequently, the results also cover this segment of the population.

In order to adjust the initial sample to the data of the official statistics, forsa calculated fitting weighting factors. The current data from the ongoing population census (population, age, gender, structure, etc.) of the Federal Statistical Office of Germany are applied to the extrapolation frame of the initial sample.

Selection of analyzed organizations

The selection of the analyzed companies and organizations was conducted in two steps. 
First a list was created with the most important companies and organizations according to specific criteria, for example, turnover and reach (media). Second, a representative population sample evaluated the selected companies and organizations according to how familiar they were with them. Only the best known organizations were part of the main survey and form part of the Public Value Atlas.

Step 1: Composition of the important organizations

The organizations selected for the data collection include DAX 30 companies (DAX 30, status of May 2015), the 50 largest German companies according to their 2013 turnover (source: Die Welt), the 50 most valuable brands (source: BrandFinance), the 30 largest family owned enterprises according to income (source: Global Family Business Index), the seven most popular financial institutions for salary and current accounts in 2014 (source: Statista), the 20 strongest NGOs (measured according to the number of members and supporters), the six most important insurance companies in 2013 (source: Die Welt), the six largest private health insurance companies according to their 2012 market share (source: Statista), the six largest statutory health insurance companies according to their 2014 membership (source: Statista), the seven highest circulation national daily newspapers in Germany in the 4th quarter of 2014 (source: Statista), the seven TV stations with the largest market share in 2014 (source: Statista), the three largest trade unions of the Federation of German Trade Unions according to membership numbers incl. DGB and dbb (source: Statista), the four largest private hospital operators according to their 2013 turnover (source: Statista), the 17 largest associations according to the membership numbers (source: Deutscher Bundestag - list of the registration of associations) and the six largest soccer clubs according to the number of Facebook fans in 2014 incl. the DFB (source: Statista).

Furthermore, the following organizations from the public sector were included in the survey: Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Office), Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court), Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces), Bundespolizei (Federal Police), Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk (Federal Agency for Technical Relief), Bundesregierung (German Federal Government), Europäische Zentralbank (European Central Bank) and Feuerwehr (fire brigade).

This list comprising 220 companies and organizations was, in a next step, evaluated according to how familiar they were to the respondents.

Step 2: Familiarity inquiry

Only the best known companies and organizations are included in the main survey. In order to identify these, we conducted a preliminary investigation by asking persons living in Germany to evaluate the in step 1 composed list of important organizations in sequence of their familiarity with these organizations. A total of 612 persons participated (min. 147 evaluations per organisation). Only the 127 companies and organizations with a familiarity of 4.0 or above on a scale ranging from 1 till 6 were included in the main survey.

Data collection

Survey period

The anonymous survey took place over a four-week period in July/August 2015.


In an online questionnaire, items could be evaluated on a Likert scale of 1 to 6 (e.g., Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The (particular organization) complies with accepted standards of morality. 1=disagree; 6=agree).


The online questionnaire underwent a pre-test to determine the average processing time and to verify how clearly the questions or statements had been formulated. In addition to a quantitative survey, a qualitative observation pre-test was also conducted, in which the respondents’ reactions during the processing of the questionnaire were documented. In total 105 persons participated.


In the main survey, the respondents could only evaluate organizations if they knew them sufficiently. (Item: Please study this list of German and international companies and organizations. How well do you know these companies and organizations? Please answer the questions by using the scale below, where 1 means you don’t know the company/organization at all and are thus not able to give an opinion. 6 means you know the company/organization and are thus able to give an opinion. You can grade your answer with the scale values of 2 to 5.).

At the beginning of the survey, the respondents were requested to indicate how well they know the individual organizations on a scale from 1-6. Only participants who gave a familiarity score equal to, or greater than 4 were requested to evaluate the public value contribution of these particular organizations.

Public value contribution

If the respondent had sufficient knowledge of the organizations, he/she received a selection of up to six organizations to evaluate their public value contribution.

The measurement of the public value contributions was based on the four dimensions, i.e., task fulfillment, social cohesion, quality of life, and morality:

  • Task fulfillment: This particular organization performs its core business well.
  • Social cohesion: This particular organization contributes to the social cohesion in Germany.
  • Quality of life: This particular organization contributes to the quality of life in Germany. 
  • Morality: This particular organization complies with accepted standards of morality.

The measurement of public value contributions by means of single-item measures is based on earlier studies’ results (see Meynhardt and Bartholomes, 2011, as well as Strathoff and Bilolo, 2014).

Data evaluation

Score building

The public value score provides information on how the German public perceives organizations’ public value contribution. The unweighted average of the evaluation of the four public value dimensions is used to calculate the score. Organizations with a good total score, showed a high value contribution in all four dimensions.

At least 207 persons living in Germany evaluated each of the 127 national and international organizations.

The public value scores ranged from 5.72 and 2.37. These values are valid and/or “true” for the analyzed sample, i.e., the respondents. In order to infer the underlying “true” value applicable to the entire population, a statistical tool, namely the confidence interval, needs to be used. The confidence interval indicates an area, or interval, with a defined probability of being a “true” value. In this way it is possible to cope with the fluctuations or variances in the answers and the number of respondents. A confidence interval with a confidence level of 99.9% was specified to classify the groups. This means there is a 99.9% probability that the “true” value will lie within the identified value range between the upper and lower boundary of the interval. A higher selected confidence level leads to a lower risk of wrong assessments, but a wider interval. The confidence interval is individually calculated for each organization, because they have different characteristics: the number of respondents, the variance, or standard deviation, and the mean.

Group classification

The same principle of the confidence interval was also applied to the mean of all the organizations, forming the basis of the organizations’ classification. The mean of all the organizations is also an estimation based on the means of all organizations. As these fluctuate, the mean of all the organizations also fluctuates.

An organization thus enters the top group if the lowest value of its confidence interval is above the highest value of the confidence interval of the mean of all the organizations. Only then can we maintain that the mean of the particular organization has a 99.9% probability of being above the mean of all the organizations. Consequently, an organization with a higher mean compared to other organizations in the top group may sometimes not be included in this group, due to the marked fluctuations in the answers and, thus, a too wide confidence interval. Under such circumstances, an organization’s confidence interval overlaps the confidence interval of the mean of all the organizations.

Reciprocally, an organization can enter the bottomgroup if the highest value of its confidence interval is below the lowest value of the confidence interval of the mean of all the organizations. More information on this in the FAQ.


The Public Value Atlas includes the biggest and best known international and national companies in Germany, as well as additional selected organizations. Bear in mind that only a section of important German organizations is shown.

The results of the Public Value Atlas must be interpreted as a snapshot. Comparisons ragarding the development of the public value contribution by single organizations in time are not yet possible. It will be interesting to observe their development over further measurement periods in subsequent data surveys.

It should be taken into account that the results relate to a specific cultural context. For example, the public value contribution of internationally active organizations may be evaluated differently in other countries and cultural environments. A comparison with other cultural environments is only possible if the study is also conducted in other countries.

In 2014 and 2015 the study also was conducted in Switzerland (Public Value Atlas Switzerland). Here, it is possible to comprehend single organization´s developments of the public value contribution over time.