Survey Structure, Administration, and Methodology
The Survey is divided into 14 sections:
- About Your Company
- Overall Perceptions of Your Economy
- Innovation and Technology Infrastructure
- Financial Environment
- Foreign Trade and Investment
- Domestic Competition
- Company Operations and Strategy
- Government and Public Institutions
- Education and Human Capital
- Corruption, Ethics and Social Responsibility
- Travel & Tourism
Most questions in the Survey ask respondents to evaluate, on a scale of 1 to 7, one particular aspect of their operating environment. At one end of the scale, 1 represents the worst possible situation; at the other end of the scale, 7 represents the best (see Box 2 for an example).
The administration of the Survey could not be carried out without the network of over 160 Partner Institutes worldwide. Partner Institutes are recognized research or academic institutes, business organizations, national competitiveness councils, or other established professional entities and, in some cases, survey consultancies, that have the network and capacity to reach out to the business community, are reputable organizations, and have a firm commitment to improving the competitiveness conditions of their economies. The full list of Partner Institutes can be found at the beginning of this Report.1
In administering the Survey, Partner Institutes are asked to follow detailed sampling guidelines to ensure that the sample of respondents is the most representative possible and is comparable across the globe and in a specific timeframe. The sampling guidelines have evolved over time and are based on best practices in the field of survey administration and on discussions with survey experts. The Survey sampling guidelines specify that the Partner Institute build a “sample frame”—that is, a list of potential business executives from small- and medium-sized enterprises and large companies—from the various sectors of activity, as detailed below. It then applies a dual stratification procedure based on these two criteria of company size and sector. Specifically, the Partner Institutes are asked to carry out the following steps:
- Prepare a “sample frame,” or large list of potential respondents, which includes firms representing the main sectors of the economy (agriculture, manufacturing industry, non-manufacturing industry, and services).
- Separate the frame into two lists: one that includes only large firms, and a second list that includes all other firms (both lists representing the various economic sectors).2
- Based on these lists, and in view of reducing survey bias, choose a random selection of these firms from both lists to receive the Survey.
Furthermore, the sampling guidelines specify that the Partner Institute should aim to collect a combination of random respondents with some repeat respondents for further comparative analysis.3 The Survey is administered in a variety of formats, including face-to-face or telephone interviews with business executives, mailed paper forms, and online surveys. For energy, time, and cost considerations, the Forum encourages the use of the online survey tool. However, deciding which of these differing methodologies to use may be based on the particular country’s infrastructure, distance between cities, cultural preferences, and other such issues.
The Partner Institutes also play an active and essential role in disseminating the findings of The Global Competitiveness Report and other reports published by The Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network by holding press events and workshops to highlight the results at the national level to the business community, the public sector, and other stakeholders.
Striving for excellence
The Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network has, over the years, always given great importance to reflecting the newest thinking in matters of development and measurement of economic growth as well as to applying surveying best practices. To this end, it has undertaken two audits since 2008 as well as yearly reviews of both the Index and the Survey.
An initial external audit by a team of survey experts from Gallup was performed in 2008. Four years after implementing the recommendations from the first audit, a second audit was conducted in 2012 by Gallup. During this second audit, the Survey instrument, the sampling guidelines, and the administration process underwent a thorough review. The review took a twofold approach, analyzing the recommendations and their impact on the process as well as keeping up to date on best practices in the field of surveying. Overall, the outcome of the review regarding the implementation of the 2008 recommendations was commendable; the review determined that the Executive Opinion Survey process followed best practices and made the improvements noted in both the Survey tool and translations as well as in sampling quality. Box 3 presents some statistics about the Survey’s demographics and reveals that the sample of respondents is very diverse.
The 2012 audit addressed an important aspect related to the impact of national culture—the so-called cultural bias—that may impact interviewee responses. The Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network recognizes this as a possibility; nonetheless, following international best practices and upon Gallup’s recommendation, the Forum decided not to re-weight the data using vignettes because of the limited effectiveness of such a procedure and to prevent introducing additional noise into the data that occurs with such an approach.
In the context of the GCI revision (see Chapter 1.1), the Survey will undergo a full review in the Fall of 2014. Along with updating some questions, following expert recommendations, the Survey will be shortened and its terminology simplified.
With such ongoing efforts in the realm of survey administration best practice, the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network team continues to improve processes to achieve greater data accuracy and heightened comparability across economies.