As businesses around the world recover from the economic crisis, governments are lagging behind. Facing a set of unprecedented financial challenges, governments, especially in the West, are looking at spending cuts and tax increases as a means of tackling fiscal deficits and public-sector debt. According to PwC’s recent global CEO survey, business leaders are showing some concern over that approach: 61 percent say the government response to fiscal deficit and debt burden is a threat to their businesses because those actions are believed to slow economic growth and potentially increase business tax contributions.¹ At the same time, however, CEOs are looking to enter strategic and collaborative relationships with governments in order to pursue their own growth agendas.
CEOs are looking beyond government’s fiscal responsibilities to its role as an enabler. By helping create jobs in the private sector and by investing in infrastructure, governments can create an environment conducive for growth, one that would support fiscal and financial stability in the long term. In fact, almost half of CEOs surveyed agree with that notion, saying that improving the country’s infrastructure and fostering a skilled workforce should be government’s top priorities.
CEOs are also willing to share some of those responsibilities. More than 70 percent plan to actively support new government policies that promote economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable growth. For instance, over half of all CEOs surveyed say collaborative efforts will help combat global threats like climate change. The strongest area in which businesses see a shared agenda is in the need to collaborate to create a stronger workforce. Fifty-four percent of CEOs surveyed plan to work with governments and education systems over the next year to improve the talent pool. The global rise of charter, or trust, schools—public schools that are funded and managed by the corporate sector—is one example of the types of partnerships between government and business that are growing.
Overall, CEOs understand that they and the public sector share a purpose: to create an environment of competitiveness as well as social well-being.