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Global business pulse

Methodology - Global business pulse

Grant Thornton’s Global business pulse is the first index to track the health of mid-sized companies at a global, regional, country and sector level.

Developed in partnership with Oxford Economics, this index is calculated every six months and draws on the world’s largest and longest-running research study into the mid-market, which interviews around 10,000 mid-market business leaders across 28 economies annually.

The Global business pulse provides a complete view of mid-market health and future prospects at a global, regional, sector and country level, while sub-indices provide a view of a number of dimensions that contribute towards this health.

Analysis of the results stretching back ten years show a strong positive correlation with real GDP growth. We believe that this shows the real contribution of the mid-market to economic growth and the importance of this unique index.

Take a look at the latest results

Why the mid-market?

Mid-sized companies – or the ‘mid-market’ – are an essential part of any economy. They are far more than just a stage in the business cycle. With the same growth genes as smaller businesses, and many of the resources of larger companies, these dynamic companies really contribute to economic growth and employment. The size of the mid-market varies from country to country, but its importance is universal as a driver of economic prosperity.
Research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Grant Thornton across 22 countries in 2018, confirmed that the mid-market was expanding faster than the larger market and growing its share of GDP. Studies within specific countries have also shown the disproportionate importance of mid-market companies. In Australia, for example, where mid-market businesses account for just 0.5-1% of all businesses, they were found to contribute 14% of the country’s sales and 19% of all company tax paid.

How does Grant Thornton define the mid-market?

Mid-market businesses vary in terms of size across different economies depending on their size and sophistication. Commonly, this index looks at businesses with an employee headcount of 50-500, although larger markets may have different parameters based on employee numbers or turnover.

How is the Global business pulse calculated?

Our model and methodology

Grant Thornton’s Global business pulse is a single figure calculated from an underlying model consisting of 20 forward-looking indicators. This figure can be compared across time and across different geographies and sectors, to assess the relative health of mid-market firms. The higher the score, the healthier the mid-market, and the greater likelihood of growth.

The index is constructed from two equally weighted sub-indices:

Outlook: This sub-index shows the outlook for mid-market businesses, and consists of 10 indicators covering future business conditions (including growth), economic optimism, and future investment intentions. These indicators are scored positively and result in a score for this sub-index of between 0 and 100 (see ‘About our indicators’ section).

Restrictions: This sub-index shows the extent of restrictions to mid-market growth and consists of 10 indicators covering demand and supply constraints and economic uncertainty. These indicators are scored negatively and generate a score for this sub-index of between 0 and -100.

The underlying model and key sub-indices are shown below:

GRA.INT.452 Index diagram1.png

The final index value is the weighted sum of these two sub-indices and ranges from -50 to +50

  • A positive index value implies that the prospects from outlook indicators more than offset concerns over restrictions. A higher index score may be the result of an improving outlook or lower restrictions, or both. A score of +50 would represent perfect health with no restrictions and an ideal outlook, and the likelihood of high growth in the future.
  • A negative value, on the other hand, suggests that concerns about restrictions are overtaking prospects from outlook indicators. A lower index score may be the result of a worsening outlook or higher restrictions, or both. A score of -50 would represent dire health, with crushing restrictions and an appalling outlook, and the likelihood of decline in the future.

About our indicators

The index draws on indicators from a long-running survey of almost 10,000 mid-market business leaders across 28 economies. This sentiment-based survey asks business leaders a series of questions about their expectations over the next 12 months, and provides data going back ten years.

Fieldwork is undertaken on a biannual basis, through both online and telephone interviews. We conduct between 50 and 300 interviews in each country, with chief executive officers, managing directors, chairperson or other senior executives from all industry sectors.

How does the index correlate with the broader economy?

As part of its analysis, Oxford Economics tested the correlation between the index and other macroeconomic indicators. It found that the global index is strongly correlated with current real GDP growth and the JP Morgan Global Composite PMI Index. Its analysis revealed that the index appropriately reflected the business cycle rising and falling in line with the three global mini-cycles in growth since 2011. More fundamentally, we also believe that this shows the contribution of the mid-market to economic growth.

The precise correlation coefficient of the global index with real GDP growth globally is 0.68. It is even stronger when considering the more economically advanced economies, with the correlation coefficient for the G7 grouping measuring 0.70, and 0.74 for the G20 grouping.


Correlation coefficients: MM Index and real GDP growth