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70% of bosses are more upbeat

By Conor Keane, Business Editor
Monday, November 28, 2011

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SEVEN out of 10 company bosses are more positive about Ireland’s economic prospects now than a year ago, research from MERC Partners indicates.

And almost nine out of 10 bosses who identified public sector reform as the key issue for the Government are dissatisfied with the rate of progress on the issue.

The research conducted among senior Irish executives by Amárach Research on behalf of MERC Partners, an executive search organisation, sought views on three main issues: on the prospects for our economy, action priorities for Government and their willingness to contribute to national recovery initiatives.

The main findings were:

* 69% said they are slightly or much more positive about our economic prospects compared with this time 12 months ago, just 14% said the outlook was more negative.

* The creation of a better job creation climate was the most urgent issue for Government — 43% said it was the Government’s single most urgent short-term challenge.

* 86% are dissatisfied with the level of public sector reform and 72% of respondents identified this issue amongst their three most important issues to be addressed over the next five years — a higher ranking than any other issue.

* 65% said they are willing to participate on a state board, with one third (32%) prepared to go on a full-time secondment to a state organisation for up to six months.

Managing partner of MERC Partners, Barry O’Connor, said while most executives are positive about our economic prospects, they have identified job creation and public sector reform as the most pressing short and medium term issues to be addressed by Government but added the study also reveals a high level of willingness by executives to play a part in assisting national recovery.

The survey found 68% of respondents said that they would be willing to spend a pre-assigned amount of their working month on national initiatives for change, with 91% of senior executives, who had the authority, saying that they would be willing to allow someone in their top team to set aside time each month to work on the same goal.

Mr O’Connor said one of the highlights of the survey was the response of 32% of Irish executives who are willing to go on secondment to a state organisation for up to six months, and that 55% of those with the authority would put forward their top people for the same mission.

"This stood out amongst the findings, given the challenges currently being faced in running a business," he said.

Mr O’Connor said that Government should consider ways of involving business executives in a voluntary or part-time capacity.

"The Government’s recently published public sector reform programme will require significant change management expertise and our study suggests that business executives are more than willing to give up some of their own time to assist Government," he said.


This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, November 28, 2011

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