Research by Media Tenor SA has shown that despite intensive media coverage of collusion in the construction industry, no serious harm has been done to its reputation. TheMediaOnline reports.
The construction sector is one of the most visible sectors in the South African media, according to Media Tenor SA researcher Minnette Nieuwoudt.
In a report entitled “Collusion not industry image killer”, Niewoudt points out that despite prominent coverage of the collusion scandal, the industry survived it quite well in terms of reputation.
The top six companies in the collusion scandal did suffer reputational harm, but the overall industry came out of it quite clean.
“A recent scandal rocked the industry as construction firms were fined collective penalties totalling R1,46 billion for collusive and anti-competitive behaviour,” said Niewoudt.
“The industry managed to navigate the scandal with minimal reputational damage when compared to the image of the international banking sector after the 2008 global financial crisis.”
Media tonality dipped in February when the Competition Commission announced its investigation and in June when the companies agreed to pay fines.
But only 19 percent of media coverage on the construction industry focused on this. The remainder of reports were around several other matters in the sector, such as share prices and corporate social responsibility efforts.
The research is based on an analysis of 41 989 reports in 75 South African print and broadcast media, between January and October this year. Of these reports, 1 607 were exclusively about the construction sector.
“The construction industry managed to stay above the awareness threshold – a measure indicating the salience of an issue on the public agenda as a function of its salience on the media agenda – most months in the period of analysis.
“This consistency is key to safeguarding the industry’s reputation,” said Nieuwoudt.
However, certain companies directly involved in the scandal did not escape harm to their reputations.
“Specific companies like Stefanutti Stocks have admitted guilt and as a result bore the brunt of media criticism for the scandal resulting in tonality of -22%.”
Stefanutti Stocks was the most affected, also for admitting to helping Group 5 gain a lucrative contract in Cape Town, which further damaged its image.
“The top six most visible companies in the industry have not been able to escape the incident without serious damage to their respective public images as Media Tenor research indicated negative tonality for all six top players.”
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