Three-quarters of senior executives in North America, Europe and Asia are optimistic about the growth prospects for their companies and industries in 2006 and view competition as a bigger threat than the health of the global economy.
An annual online survey released today by Accenture, which explores the business outlook and major concerns of more than 900 "C-suite" executives in the U.S, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Canada and China, also found that nearly eight out of 10 (78 per cent) of companies plan to take on staff in the next six months either to fill crucial positions as they are vacated or to actively recruit new employees.
In addition, nearly half (46 percent) of the companies expect to increase spending this year.
"The perception among C-suite executives that the global economy is getting stronger should be a hopeful indicator for global business," said Accenture's Mark Foster.
"As optimism for the global economic climate improves, top executives are more apt to focus on improving their own businesses by spending for programs that might have been curtailed or postponed and by hiring new employees to carry out their growth plans."
Most of those surveyed expect their companies to expand in two ways: by building deeper relationships with current customers and by launching new products and services.
Geographically, executives in China are the most optimistic about economic growth. In fact, nearly every Chinese respondent (98 per cent) predicted growth for his or her industry this year.
From an industry perspective, respondents in the financial services industry were the most optimistic about their industry's growth, with 86 per cent saying they expect their industry to grow this year.
Those working in government were the least optimistic, with only 57 per cent expecting growth this year.
CEOs officers and HR directors were the most optimistic about the growth of their organisations with nearly eight out of 10 predicting business growth in 2006.
The survey also asked respondents to identify what they believe to be the top threats to their company's success in 2006.
Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) viewed competition as their biggest challenge compared with two-thirds (67 per cent) who were worried about the state of the global economy.
But people factors were also loomed large, with an inability to attract and retain the best talent seen as a threat by six out of 10 of those surveyed.
A similar proportion were worried about their company's reputation, half saw an inability to develop new products or services as a threat while almost four out of 10 identified terrorism, low employee morale and red tape as potential issues in 2006.