Firms engaged in international business necessarily make predictions about the business environments in which they operate or seek to enter, on the basis of which they make a number of strategic decisions. The purpose of this paper is to consider the difficulties there are in making accurate predictions and how the process might be improved.
The paper examines predictions made in 2007 by ‘China experts’ about what the Chinese business environment would look like in 2017. Their predictions were accurate in respect of around two-thirds of the issues they were asked to consider. This paper focuses on the one-third of issues about which they were wide of the mark and examine the likely reasons.
The predictions of the 2007 study were accurate in respect of around two-thirds of the issues the China experts on the Delphi panel were asked to consider. The reason that they were wide of the mark on about one-third of issues could be attributed to two main factors: the 2008/2009 Global Financial Crisis and the appointment in 2013 of Xi Jinping as the President of China. These events precipitated changes in direction in the Chinese business environment that had not been (and could not have been) anticipated by the Delphi panel.
Very few Delphi studies have been subject to a follow-up examination of the accuracy of their predictions. This paper contributes a discussion the various methodologies that firms can use to improve their forecasts of international business environments.
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