A majority of architecture/engineering (A/E) principals are optimistic that business will pick up this year, according to business-management-services provider ZweigWhite's 2011 Principals, Partners & Owners Survey.

Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents said the business environment will be somewhat better in 2011, while 11 percent said it will be much better. Another 11 percent of the respondents said 2011 will be the same as 2010, while 16 percent said it will be somewhat worse. Not one (0 percent) respondent said things will be much worse this year, while 7 percent expressd no opinion.

According to the survey, 16 percent of respondents are working internationally, while 18 percent hope to be in the future. Meanwhile, about half of the respondents (54 percent) believe international work is right for some firms, but not theirs. Only 3 percent see international work as a mistake, while 9 percent expressed no opinion on the subject.

Over the last five years of the survey, the percentage of principals reporting their firm is worth more than what they paid for it has declined gradually. After reaching a 10-year high of 94 percent in 2006, the number has dropped each year, sliding to 89 percent in 2009. The biggest decline occurred in 2010, with only 77 percent of principals reporting their firm is worth more than what they paid for it.

According to the 2011 survey, a six-year high of 66 percent of principals—up from 53 percent in 2010—are willing to take a pay cut before passing one on to their staff. Meanwhile, the percentage of principals who say principals and staff both should take a pay cut reached a 10-year low of 24 percent, dropping from 42 percent in 2010.

To purchase ZweigWhite’s 2011 Principals, Partners & Owners Survey, click here.