HLB Survey of Business Leaders 2024: Taking on change head-on

Over the past five years, HLB has published annual surveys of business leaders to offer a comprehensive view of the modern business landscape. Our 2024 survey features responses from nearly 1,000 leaders across 50+ countries and six in-depth expert interviews. Within this extensive dataset, 152 respondents are from the manufacturing sector, offering valuable insights into the industry's challenges and opportunities.

Improving business confidence

Recent years have seen a notable escalation in concerns surrounding geopolitical risks, cyber threats, and environmental challenges. In addition, businesses still grapple with the aftermath of the pandemic and the lingering impact of the energy crisis.

Yet, there seems to be a change in business confidence, as the corporate landscape adapts to the perpetual state of crisis becoming the new normal. In contrast to 2023, which witnessed a significant decline in business confidence, with only 27% of business leaders believing in global economic growth, this year reflects a more positive sentiment, with 73% of business leaders expecting global economic growth to either be maintained or increase.

The outlook for the global economy is particularly optimistic among manufacturing sector leaders, who exhibit higher confidence in both the economy and their own growth prospects compared to their global peers.

"47% expect global economic growth to accelerate next year, compared to 41% of leaders in other industries"

Despite a continuous stream of global crises, from geopolitical conflicts to spikes in resource costs, businesses have adapted to an ever-shifting risk landscape.

Inflation emerges as the foremost concern for manufacturers, cited by 81% of respondents, closely followed by geopolitical risk at 77%. Concerns regarding geopolitical risks have notably increased from 48% five years ago. Additionally, mounting resource costs and cybersecurity anxieties weigh heavily, with 72% and 69% of manufacturing leaders respectively, highlighting them as top concerns.

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