For the first time in two years, optimism levels are rising among the world's global executives, according to the annual Decision Dynamics survey by the Financial Times and Doremus.

Across four key metrics—global economic conditions, local economic conditions, industry economic conditions, and corporate outlook—more senior-level executives project improvements over the next six months vs. the same period a year earlier:

  • 41% expect global economic conditions to improve over the next six months, up from the 25% who did so a year earlier.
  • 52% expect improvements in their own businesses over the next six months, up from the 39% who did so in 2011.

Among global executives, levels of optimism about local economies and industry have also risen over the past year.

Below, additional findings from the Doremus/Financial Times annual survey of 400 senior-level executives worldwide.

Regional Differences

The outlook differs by geography: North Americans were the most optimistic overall, particularly about economic conditions locally and within their own industries. By contrast, Europeans were the most pessimistic, particularly regarding local economic conditions:

Executives' Top Goals for 2013

For the first time in nine years, senior execs ranked "improving market share/competitive position" (47%) as their top goal for the year. That shift pushed "cost cutting" into the No. 2 spot (43%), while developing/marketing new products/services (39%) ranked No. 3:

"Although levels of optimism are not at the high levels they enjoyed in 2010, the responses we received from global executives were very encouraging on many levels," said Hope Picker, Doremus's director of Strategic Research.

"When 'improving market share/competitive position' becomes the top goal after nine years of looking to cut costs, it's a sign that these global executives are in, or optimistically want, growth mode."

About the study: This Decision Dynamics survey was conducted online in late 2012 among 400+ senior-level executives from a mix of industries and company sizes.

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Worldwide Business Optimism Reaches Two-Year High

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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.