Box 1: A Brief History of the Executive Opinion Survey and The Global Competitiveness Report
The Global Competitiveness Report began as a research project by Professor Klaus Schwab in 1979. The report, entitled The Competitiveness of European Industry, would later become the annual Global Competitiveness Report. This first report was an analysis of the competitiveness of 16 European countries. The study was based on Schwab’s innovative concept of competitiveness, which extended beyond the traditional notion of labor and capital productivity. Competitiveness, in that early report, was defined as the ability of one enterprise to do as well as, or outperform, another company or group of companies while taking into account the framework conditions in the country.
That year, of the 200 indicators selected for the Forum’s first competitiveness index, 50 were derived from a survey. The survey was mailed out in English, French, and German to potential respondents throughout Europe, mainly Chief Executive or Chief Planning Officers of European companies; Managing Directors of subsidiaries of US companies operating in these 16 countries, leading representatives of industrial and employers’ associations, labor unions, economic and social institutes; university faculties of economics or business administration; and the economic media. Median values were calculated for each question and by country. In parallel, Forum researchers visited statistical offices and ministries in order to gather relevant quantitative data. The report was finalized in November 1979. The Forum’s work on competitiveness and its various indexes has therefore been including a mix of proprietary survey data and statistics from international organizations since its very inception.
The report was the first attempt to support policymakers and business leaders in their efforts to formulate improved economic policies and institutional reforms. In the minds of its authors, “an undertaking of this dimension can never be perfect, certainly not in its first publication. It will be enriched, in the future, by the comments and suggestions of its readers.”1
Thirty-five years later, as envisioned by Professor Schwab, The Global Competitiveness Report has grown to cover over 140 economies to assess the key drivers of development. The methodology underpinning the analysis has been improved over the years in order to reflect the newest thinking in matters of economic growth. Since 2005, the Global Competitiveness Index has provided the methodology used to conduct the assessment. This evolution has been achieved while keeping true to the original objective of supporting policymakers and business leaders in their efforts to formulate improved economic policies and institutional reforms.
In parallel to this development of the index, the original survey has evolved and is today known as the Executive Opinion Survey (the Survey). Over the years, it has undergone a number of revisions and audits, which have enabled an improved administration process and methodology. The Survey has grown in scope, too. It now includes over 140 questions distributed in 14 sections. And it largely influences the coverage of the Forum’s global indexes: in most cases, an economy not included in the Survey cannot be covered by an index.