Monday, March 06, 2006

Reputation in Istanbul

Reputation has reached Istanbul in a big way. The conference that I spoke at on Mobilization of Capital & Corporate Reputation was held yesterday in Istanbul and well-attended. It was sponsored by the Swedish Trade Council, Embassy of Sweden and Capital magazine. TeliaSonera, a Swedish-Finnish telecom company, was the main sponsor. Capital has been covering reputational issues for some time now and Sweden strongly supports Turkey's journey to joining the EU.

Many Turkish companies are eager to learn the steps needed to build global reputations to succeed today in this new century. Since the vast majority of Turkish companies are family-owned companies, the challenges are different and sometimes difficult as they give up stakes in their businesses in return for financial capital. A major thread in the conference presentations was understanding how to apply good corporate governance in order to attract foreign investment and build credible companies. As well, there was a focus on business ethics which we all know has to underscore good governance and well-led companies.

A discussion on business' responsibility to provide a profit vs. social good surfaced. Since many Turkish companies are family-owned, good corporate citizenship is apparently built into the social fabric of Turkey and has a long history among the largest Turkish family-owned businesses such as the Koc and Sarbanci families. The Financial Times had an interesting sidebar(February 22, 2006) by Vincent Boland on the social deeds carried out by a Turkish carpet company, Merinos. Merinos is the world's third largest carpet producer and one of Turkey's first 500 industrial companies. Boland (who writes often on the Turkish economy and business and is always interesting and well-informed) describes how this family-owned carpet business sent 25% of its 3000 employees on vacation last year to a five-star resort in the Mediterranean. As if that was not impressive enough, the Erdemoğlu family who owns the company built apartments for its factory workers to replace the poorly constructed homes that existed. As Borland quotes the leader Erdemoglu, "We all come from similar conditions and we want to help our people." A worthy and noble thought.

Turkey is definitely an interesting country to watch as it builds its reputation on a world stage. A good case study and best practice for the future.


Anonymous Idil said...

Personal reputation (based on pride and honour) is a quintessential element of Turkish people's one-to-one relations. It would be interesting to study how much of this mentality translates into building corporate reputation and what barriers stand in the way.

10:29 PM  
Blogger lgr said...

I could see that while I was there. Turkish people take tremendous pride in themselves. They band together as they walk too. Was an interesting observation.

10:17 PM  

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