Protiviti-Oxford Survey: Most Global Execs Have Big Concerns About Government’s Impact on Business

Joe Kornik, Director of Brand Publishing Editor-in-Chief of VISION by Protiviti
  • Top finding: A whopping 97% of executives have concerns about governments’ ability to impact their business over the next decade. More than half — 56% — classify that concern as substantial.
  • What does it mean? Specifically, business leaders anticipate government to play a role in managing the economy (80%), regulating new technologies like AI (82%), and creating a just and fair society (60%). Half expect the impact on their business to be positive. At the same time, leaders are worried about governments’ ability to protect citizens’ data, and nearly half (49%) have substantial concerns about privacy and surveillance.
  • Why it matters: 2024 has been dubbed “the super election year.” More than 2 billion people in some 60 countries will head to the polls and cast a ballot this year — more than a quarter of the planet’s population. In this context of uncertainty, business leaders’ perceptions of government can shape the future of public-private partnerships and opportunities.

Go Deeper:

If there’s one overarching takeaway from our Executive Outlook on the Future of Government survey of global business leaders conducted by Protiviti and University of Oxford in the first quarter of 2024, it is this: Executives believe government can, and will, play a big role in determining the extent of their business success over the next decade. The overwhelming majority of executives — 97% —say they have some level of concern about the ability of the government to impact their business over the next decade. And more than half (56%) classify that concern as substantial or extreme.

While that may sound alarming, consider the other side of the same coin: Business leaders believe in the government’s ability to do big things: everything from creating a positive economic environment, controlling inflation and preventing market failures to helping form a just and fair society, regulating emerging technologies and protecting citizens’ privacy.

Geographically, North American business leaders (69%) far outpace European (40%) and Asian-Pacific (36%) leaders in their belief that government will have a positive impact on their business. This is a notable trend in the survey across nearly every category measured: North American executives express a higher level of faith and trust in the government’s ability to effect change and create a more positive environment to conduct business.

Economic Factors

Business leaders are looking to the government to pull levers leading to a healthy economy in their region: 80% say they expect the government to have some level of involvement in controlling economic growth, unemployment and inflation with the management of demand and money.

Leaders get even more bullish when it comes to government’s role in correcting “market failures” caused by financial conditions through regulation, taxation and subsidies. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) business leaders believe government should play a role, and almost a quarter (24%) say that corrective role should be “significant.”

What level of involvement, if any, do you think the government should have in correcting “market failures” — caused by either financial conditions or discriminatory action — through regulation, taxation, subsidies, and providing public goods?

Government for Social Good

But it’s more than just the economy. When it comes to equity and equality, 60% of survey respondents say the government should have substantial involvement in achieving a just and fair society through regulation, progressive taxation, subsidies and the adjustment of rights, as well as giving access to markets in the face of discrimination.

And when it comes to climate change, an overwhelming majority of executives (83%) say they are confident their own government will have successfully implemented its sustainability and climate change initiatives within 10 years’ time.

Emerging Tech, E-Government and Privacy

It’s safe to say that business leaders have concerns about government and privacy, especially as governments digitize services. Nearly half (49%) say they are either “significantly” or “extremely” concerned about privacy.

When we asked executives what role, if any, government should play in regulating emerging technologies that can disrupt democracies, such as AI and deep fakes, 82% believe the government has a role, and 53% said that role should be substantial.

Learn More

More insights from the survey are available on the VISION by Protiviti website, including executives’ expectations about future taxation and public-private partnerships. For access to the full report, subscribe.

Protiviti and University of Oxford partnered to conduct a global survey of 250 board members, C-suite executives and other business leaders in 14 countries in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific representing more than 25 industries about the future of government and the public sector. Survey data was collected in Q1 2024. The report is published by VISION by Protiviti.

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