MES Methodology


MES Methodology

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The MES is a voluntary survey of businesses in Great Britain. Currently, two waves have been administered, with a third funded and under development.

The first wave of MES – MES2017 – was administered in July 2017 and sent to approximately 25,000 businesses with employment of 10 or more, drawn from the Annual Business Survey (ABS) sample, covering both the production and services sectors in Great Britain. The MES sample was drawn through random sampling, stratified by three employment size groups (10 to 49, 50 to 249 and 250 or more), a custom mix of industry aggregations in sections B to S7 and the 11 NUTS1 regions – composed of the nine regions in England, plus Wales and Scotland – of Great Britain. MES2017 gathered information about the 2016 reference year and yielded 8,437 observations (a 39% response rate). More detail about the design and outcomes of MES2017 is available here.

Fig 1: 2016 Great Britain response rates

The second wave of MES – MES2020 – was administered in December 2020 and sent to approximately 50,000 businesses with employment of 10 or more. The sample was drawn in part from previous MES respondents, in part from the ABS sample, and in part from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR), using stratified sampling like its predecessor. Like MES2017, MES2020 covered both the production and services sectors in Great Britain. MES2020 gathered information about the 2019 and 2020 reference years and yielded 12,124 observations (a 24% response rate). More detail about the design and outcomes of MES2020 is available here.

Fig 2: Ordinary least squares regression of Management and Expectations Survey response rate on observable firm characteristics, Great Britain, 2020

The MES questionnaire includes two main sections: one to elicit management practices and another to collect data on subjective expectations on firm-level and economy-level outcomes. The management section follows the methodology developed by Bloom and Van Reenen (2007) and measures management practices with 12 questions on four dimensions, i.e.  the use of key performance indicators (KPIs), the use of targets, employment practices relating to promotion, training and employee underperformance, and continuous improvement processes. For each question, a firm gets a score ranging from 0 to 1. The final management score is a simple average of the firm’s score on all individual questions. A firm with the most structured management would score a 1, while a firm without any structured management practices in place would score a 0.

Fig 3: Changes of overall management practices scores, whole sample, Great Britain, 2016 to 2020.

In the expectations section, firms are asked to make forecasts about their own input and output values and key macroeconomic variables. Specifically, they are asked to offer a point forecast and the probability distributions of the forecast for their own turnover, input costs and employment as well as GDP for the survey year and one year into the future.

MES2020 additionally features topical questions on pandemic-related adaptations, including online sales, homeworking, and supply chain changes. The full questionnaire can be accessed here.

Useful Links

Survey information: Management and Expectations Survey – Office for National Statistics

Data user guide: Management practices in Great Britain – Office for National Statistics (

Initial results:  Management and Expectations Survey: A Brief User Guide (