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Executives expect improved growth estimates in 2004

1/20/2004 --

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Business leaders worldwide have significantly higher growth expectations for the first quarter of 2004 than they did for the last quarter, according to the December 2003 Leadership Pulse study.

Conducted monthly by the University of Michigan Business School and eePulse Inc., the Web-based survey asked more than 900 U.S. and foreign business executives to project changes in sales, net profits, number of customers, number of employees, and new products and services.

The survey is designed to measure the effects of key resources and confidence levels on overall business growth and performance.

This month¿s results indicate expected growth among all of the study's key variables (with the percentage of those predicting increases in parentheses):

  • Sales (82 percent in Q1 2004, up from 67 percent in Q4 2003).
  • Net profits (78 percent in Q1 2004, up from 62 percent in Q4 2003).
  • Number of customers (76 percent in Q1 2004, up from 60 percent in Q4 2003).
  • Number of employees (49 percent in Q1 2004, up from 35 percent in Q4 2003).
  • New products and services (61 percent in Q1 2004, up from 49 percent in Q4 2003).

According to eePulse CEO Theresa Welbourne, the results are consistent with the oveall patterns found in the study since last summer.

"We are seeing slow but steady growth expectations, in addition to concern about being able to keep up with the growth," says Welbourne, an adjunct associate professor at the Michigan Business School's Zell-Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. "Leaders who have laid off significant portions of their staffs in the last few years are expecting growth but not spending money to get ready for growth. This makes senior executives nervous about their ability to execute."

Welbourne says it remains to be seen if employees will "stick it out" and help their companies grow or "jump ship" as soon as new jobs become available.

"The key to success in 2004 will be leadership," she says. "Those firms with loyal employees and strong leaders will retain their people and meet their customers' needs. Those firms that have weak leaders will lose key employees as soon as new jobs become available elsewhere."

For more information or to participate in the Leadership Pulse study, contact Welbourne or the eePulse research team at (734) 996-2321 or visit or

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone: 734.936.1015 or 734.647.1847