Improvements needed in business culture globally, says RSM report
A report published today by RSM International, the seventh largest network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms, and The Business and Information Technology School (BiTS) in Germany, found that business culture can improve across countries globally.
The report is based on the responses of 410 members of the RSM network and 291 entrepreneurs across nine European and several other countries, and is the second of a series of academic reports, which will culminate in the publication of a country-by-country European business resilience index in 2017.
The second RSM “Business Resilience Survey” took place in July and August 2015, in which respondents were asked to evaluate companies’ strategy choices, the mentality of business leaders, and their country’s business culture, alongside key macroeconomic data.
The greatest improvement in business culture was found in Spain, which was previously found to be in a remarkably poor position. The survey attributes this rise to the availability of qualified employees, and an increased willingness to employ foreign workers. Norway leads the business culture rankings, followed by the Netherlands, UK, and Australia. Norway’s surplus in its sovereign wealth fund has led to notable organisational investment in employees, such as training, and flexible and part−time working. Only Belgium was found by the RSM experts not to require improvements in business culture.
The survey found that the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain were expected by the RSM experts to be the most economically progressing countries. Spain, as a turnaround country moving away from its economic crisis, is predicted in the survey to have the highest GDP growth rate of all countries surveyed and for growth to accelerate from 2015 to 2016. The UK and the Netherlands follow in the rankings of GDP growth rate predictions, although RSM’s experts were pessimistic on GDP growth in these countries in comparison to the most recent OECD growth forecast. The report attributes high and accelerating growth predictions in the UK and Netherlands to the pronounced entrepreneurialism observed in the survey in these countries.
While these countries see accelerating growth to 2016, RSM experts expect GDP growth rates to decelerate in Australia and Germany, although growth in Australia will remain above two per cent in both 2015 and 2016, in spite a mining slowdown. These countries, along with Belgium, France and Portugal, are found to be economically stable or stabilised. Countries in this group see expected growth rates between 1.4 per cent to 1.7 per cent, with the RSM experts predicting a slight improvement of the sentiment indices.
Austria, Brazil and Norway are categorized as economically recessive countries, according to the RSM experts survey. While Brazil is almost in a recession, RSM experts predict some recovery in 2016. As with Australia, Norway’s economy remains vulnerable to the global commodity slowdown, although there is reason to expect modest GDP growth.
One reason given in the report for this growth might be the mentalities of business leaders. More proactive leaders are risk-friendly and proactive in introducing new services, products or processes. The survey found that business leaders in the UK show the highest degree of proactivity across all countries and they are more risk-friendly in comparison to the country average.
RSM experts evaluated entrepreneurialism in their countries. The UK was judged to lead on entrepreneurial spirit, where entrepreneurship is highly regarded and the number of entrepreneurs is expected to rise in 2016. The Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Spain were also judged to have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, although RSM experts expect to see a decrease in entrepreneur numbers is Norway and Germany.
The second element of the survey comprised a survey of entrepreneurs. Comparing the evaluations of service orientations of companies by entrepreneurs and by RSM experts, entrepreneurs consistently evaluated statements more highly than RSM across all countries surveyed. The largest gap between evaluations was found in the statement: “The management systematically identifies new internal and external risks, evaluates them and tries to limit or avoid them (risk management).”
When asked to evaluate the characteristics of successful companies, entrepreneurs judged that the use of social media for customer loyalty was found in companies which expect their business situation to improve next year. Entrepreneurs in China emphasised the challenges of digitisation, fearing “technology shocks to the industry”. Successful companies were generally found to have managers with a higher risk appetite.
The survey also tackles countries‘ trust culture as an important element of overall business culture. Analysing trust in banks, other businesses, political parties and the justice system, Norway, Australia, Germany, and the UK were found to have the most positive trust culture on average. A distinctive mistrust in political parties can be seen in all countries surveyed.