MERC Partners Annual Leadership Survey – Executive Expectations 2015

MERC Partners Annual Leadership Survey – Executive Expectations 2015


Over 80% of Irish senior executives say the UK leaving the EU would be detrimental for Ireland

Over one third believe this is likely to happen in the next five years

New research from MERC Partners shows strong improvement in overall sentiment

A comprehensive study of almost 350 senior Irish executives published today indicates that 83% feel there would be negative consequences for the Irish economy if the UK exits the EU.  36% of respondents believe this is likely to happen over the next five years.

The Executive Expectations Report was carried out by Amárach Research on behalf of MERC Partners, Ireland’s leading executive search firm.

Ruth Curran, Managing Partner of MERC Partners said “This is the first significant survey of how senior Irish executives view the prospect of the UK leaving the EU.  This issue is certain to feature strongly in the upcoming UK General Election.  With Prime Minister Cameron already promising a referendum in 2017 if he is re-elected, the risk of the UK leaving the EU is real.  Irish businesses need to start thinking about the consequences and thinking about how we can influence the debate.”

Half of the survey respondents believe that SMEs in Ireland would suffer most as a result of the UK exiting the EU, with a further 20% feeling the Agriculture sector would be hardest hit. On a potentially positive note, two thirds of respondents (66%) believe Ireland would become a more attractive investment location for multinationals if the UK leaves.

“Our Executive Expectations Survey 2015 is our fourth annual survey of senior executives and sets out detailed insights into the experiences of Irish executives over the past 12 months and their expectations for the coming year.  Across virtually all the sentiment levels assessed, the reaction was more positive than last year” according to Ruth Curran.

Among the key findings of the research are:

  • The outlook is increasingly upbeat with 93% of respondents feeling more positive about prospects for the Irish economy, up 3% on last year’s high figures.
  • Over half of the organisations (54%) have employed additional staff over the past year while 59% expect to recruit more people over the coming year.
  • Two thirds of respondents (66%) report that morale in their organisation is more positive now than it was 12 months ago, compared to 17% who cited a decline in morale over the past year.
  • A high proportion (89%) of respondents believes career opportunities in Ireland have improved over the past 12 months – an increase of 13% since last year.  .
  • Over half of those polled (54%) expect emigration levels to decrease over the next 3 years, a doubling of the comparable result for 2014.

“While senior executive sentiment is clearly rising as the recovery continues, there is recognition that there is still a distance to go with 35% of respondents still believing that the turnaround of the economy is less than half way there” concluded Ruth Curran.

About the Study 

The study was conducted on behalf of MERC Partners by Amárach Research in December 2014.  Of the 342 respondents, 75% of respondents were either at Managing Director/CEO (27%), Divisional Director or Head of Function level. 48% were aged between 46 and 55, 31% were aged between 36 and 45, while 13% were aged between 55 and 65. The vast majority of respondents (83%) came from the private sector, with 11% coming from the public sector and 6% from ‘not for profit’ organisations.  The highest level of response came from the financial services and professional services sectors (23% and 20% respectively).