Public Value Atlas 2017:
In 2017, the survey covered a total of 14502 persons aged 18 to 92 and living in Switzerland. Apart from the German speaking area, French and Italian speaking parts of Switzerland were included in the sample for the first time.

Public Value Atlas 2015:
In 2015, a total of 5052 persons aged between 18 and 90 living in the German-speaking part of Switzerland were surveyed.

Public Value Atlas 2014:
The data collection in 2014 comprised 4483 persons aged between 18 and 88 years and living in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

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. Both samples were drawn randomly, and were proportionally stratified and representative of the population (according to the current data of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office) in terms of gender, age, level of education, and region of residence. During the analysis, different response rates in various strata were monitored and balanced by additional disproportionally stratified random samples. Owing to the questionnaire-specific screening categories, there were only minor deviations in the representative distribution concerning age (± 3 percent) and region of residence (± 4 percent). The quotas with regard to gender and education were maintained without deviations (deviations in 2014: age ± 3 percent, region of residence and education ± 5 percent).

The respondents are all registered on the market research institute intervista ’s online panel, which has more than 75,000 registered participants and is subject to continuous quality control.

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 circulation (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

Only the largest and best known Swiss companies, banks, insurance companies, and cooperatives formed part of the organizations selected for the 2014 data collection.
These included the 50 Swiss companies with the highest turnover, all SMI (Swiss Market Index)-listed companies, as well as the ten biggest Swiss insurance companies, banks, and cooperatives (79 organizations in total).
In addition, the following media, NGOs, and public sector organizations were included in the questionnaire: SRF (Swiss Radio and Television, Blick, NZZ, Schweizer Armee (Swiss Armed Forces), Schweizerisches Rotes Kreuz (Swiss Red Cross), and WWF.

In comparison to 2014, the 2015 list of the familiarity inquiry also included the 50 most valuable international brands (Brand Finance study). In addition, the list was expanded with the ten biggest Swiss family-owned enterprises and aid agencies for development cooperation ( ― measured according to turnover ― as well as the media houses with the largest reach in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and public sector associations and organizations (e.g., Spitex, TCS, Rega, Bundesamt für Polizei (Federal Police Office)).

In 2017, the sources used for the evaluation were updated, which led to slight changes in comparison to the organizations preselected in 2015. Included were all SMI (Swiss Market Index) listed companies, the top 50 Swiss companies by turnover (data Segmentas, retrieved in August 2016), 11 of the most valuable international brands (Brand Finance study), the 15 largest banks by balance sheet total in Switzerland (data statistica), the largest Swiss indemnity insurances (data statistica) and health insurance companies by market share (data Eidgenössische Finanzmarktaufsicht FINMA), the 17 largest family businesses in Switzerland (data familybusinessindex), the 10 largest cooperatives in Switzerland (data BILANZ), 15 NGOs with the strongest revenue growth, 13 public sector organizations, the six football associations of the Super League Switzerland in the season 2015/2016 with the highest average number of spectators (data statistica), the 10 daily newspapers with the highest average circulation (data statistica), leading companies in detail trade by turnover (data statistica), the protestant church of Switzerland, the roman catholic church of Switzerland, important digital organizations and notable organizations in French and Italian speaking Switzerland.

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 Switzerland to evaluate the largest and most important companies in Switzerland in sequence of their familiarity with these companies. In 2017, a total of 501 persons were included in the preliminary investigation (250 evaluations per organization). In 2015, a total of 465 persons participated in the familiarity inquiry, and a total of 800 persons in 2014.

Data collection

Survey period

Public Value Atlas 2017: The anonymous survey was conducted over a period of four weeks in May/June 2017.

Public Value Atlas 2015: The anonymous survey took place over a four-week period in June/July 2015.

Public Value Atlas 2014: The anonymous survey took place over three weeks in February/March 2014.


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.  

Pre-test sample Public Value Atlas 2017:
128 persons in total.

Pre-test sample Public Value Atlas 2015:
100 persons in total.

Pre-test sample Public Value Atlas 2014: 
65 persons in total.


In the main survey, the respondents could only evaluate organizations if they knew them sufficiently. (Item: Please study this list of Swiss 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. Organizations from the Canton of St.Gallen were only evaluated by persons living in this canton.

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 well in ist core business.
  • Social cohesion: This particular organization contributes to the social cohesion in Switzerland.
  • Quality of life: This particular organization contributes to the quality of life in Switzerland.
  • 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 Swiss population perceives an organization's 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.

In 2017, each of the 106 organizations was evaluated by at least 770 peoples living in Switzerland. With this, the number of respondents increased considerably by min. 227 in 2015 and min. 300 in 2014. In addition, the survey was extended to the whole of Switzerland (limited to the German speaking part in 2015 and 2014).

In 2017, the public value scores ranged from 5.56 to 2.43 (in 2015 from 5.41 to 2.87 and in 2014 from 5.39 to 2.64). These values are valid and/or “true”for the analyzed sample, 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 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 reason for this is that this mean is also an estimation and, depending on the fluctuations, the average of 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 bottom group 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 Switzerland, as well as additional selected organizations. Bear in mind that only a section of important Swiss organizations is shown.

The results of the Public Value Atlas are to be interpreted as a snapshot. A comparison of the results in 2017 with those obtained in previus years allows initial conclusions on the development of the public vlue contribution of individual organizations over time. It will be of interest to monitor further developments in future data collections.
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. However, a comparison with different cultural environments is only possible if the study is extended to other countries.
In 2015 the study was conducted for the first time in Germany and published on 30 October 2015. You can find the Public Value Atlas Germany here.