The Executive Opinion Survey: The Voice of the Business Community
Attilio Di Battista
World Economic Forum
Since 1979 and its first report on the competitiveness of European industry, the World Economic Forum’s annual survey has been a key ingredient of its research and benchmarking activities. The Executive Opinion Survey (the Survey) is the longest-running and most extensive survey of its kind. Box 1 retraces the history of this instrument, which is closely related to the history of the competitiveness report series. The Survey captures the opinions of business leaders around the world on a broad range of topics for which data sources are scarce or, frequently, nonexistent on a global scale. It helps to capture aspects of a particular domain—such as the extent of the skills gap, the level of corruption, or the intensity of market competition—that are more qualitative than hard data can provide. Thus it is an indispensable complement to the sources of data made available by international organizations and national statistical offices.
The indicators derived from the Survey are used in the calculation of the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) and other Forum indexes, including the Networked Readiness Index, the Enabling Trade Index, the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, and the Gender Gap Index, as well as in a number of regional studies.
A truly unique source of data, the Survey has also long been used by a number of international and nongovernmental organizations, think tanks, and academia for empirical and policy work. For example, Transparency International has been using the Survey data for the elaboration of their Corruption Perceptions Index and the Bribe Payers Index. Institutions such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also refer to the Forum’s Survey data in their publications, as do a number of academic publications. Finally, an increasing number of countries publish national competitiveness reports that draw on or refer to the Survey data.
The Survey in numbers
The 2014 edition of the Survey captured the opinions of over 14,000 business leaders in 148 economies between February and June 2014; because of data issues, out of the 148 economies surveyed, 144 are included in the GCI this year (please see the data treatment section below for further details). Figure 1 presents some key descriptive statistics. The Survey is available in 42 languages, of which 20 are available online (see Table 1). This year almost 40 percent of respondents took the Survey online. In 22 economies the Survey was administered entirely online, while in a further 16 over 90 percent of respondents completed the Survey online (see Table 2 for statistics about the administration approach).
Figure 1: Descriptive statistics of the Executive Opinion Survey 2014
Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook database, April 2014 edition. Note: Not all charts are drawn to scale. * Following data treatment. See text for details. † Based on purchasing power parity estimates.
Table 1: The 42 languages in which the 2014 Survey was available
* Language also available in the online Survey tool (20 languages).
Table 2: Executive Opinion Survey: Descriptive statistics and weightings
Notes: Bold typeface identifies economies where the Survey was conducted entirely online. All statistics were computed following the edition of the data. See text for details. Survey edition(s) used for the computation of economy scores: † 2012 and 2014; ‡ 2013; ‡‡ 2014. See Box 2 for details about exceptions. * Weight applied to the country score in that edition of the Survey. See Box 4 for details.
Following a year of non-inclusion, Tajikistan is reinstated in the 2014 edition; however, no new economy is added this year. The Survey was not completed to minimum requirements in Benin, Brunei Darussalam, or Liberia, and therefore those countries could not be included this year. Furthermore, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ecuador are not included in this edition of the Report because of data quality concerns (see “Trend analysis and exceptions” below for more detail). The Forum’s Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network continues its efforts to increase country coverage year on year.