Managing in Uncharted Waters is the fourth report in an annual series and follows Managing in a Multi-speed Economy (2011–12), Managing in Uncertain Times (2010–11) and Managing in a Downturn (2009–10).
Since the report’s inception four years ago, there have been significant swings in the business community’s mood. In 2009, there was an upbeat and positive ambiance within the business community, particularly among Australian SMEs coming out of the GFC. Business leaders held a very optimistic outlook with bullish growth expectations, even though the rest of the world was in recession and struggling with difficult economic conditions.
This positive and upbeat mood began to shift in the 2010–11 report which found companies less buoyant and more cautious in their economic and individual business outlook.
Managing in a Multi-speed Economy (2011–12) indicated that cracks were beginning to appear beneath the surface of Australia’s multi-speed economy, which, to date, had been largely free of the worst of the global economy’s turmoil.
This year’s report reveals that companies appear to be viewing the economy’s choppy waters with some trepidation. Australian companies had the most negative outlook in the region, with 27 per cent indicating that they will face difficult conditions over the next 12 months, compared to only 6 per cent of New Zealand companies with the same view.
The report’s key findings include:
- 26% of surveyed companies expect difficult conditions in 2012–13, up 6% on last year.
- Only 20% of Australian companies are very optimistic about their growth expectations, risen from 15%.
- 13% of companies expect no growth at all this financial year, down 1% from last year.
- 59% of surveyed companies expect 10% or less growth, up 9% on last year.
- 37% of surveyed companies feel the economy is growing –down 17% on last year.
- 15% of surveyed companies are reducing staff, up 4% on last year, indicating changing economic times.