Compiled By Frank R. Chloupek According to a recent survey of senior managers, U.S. companies face several disadvantages in the global marketplace. Despite these concerns, survey respondents also felt that their companies could still effectively compete internationally. The survey, conducted during March and April 2003 by Lieberman Research Worldwide on behalf of Celerant Consulting, queried 201 U.S. executives. Many survey respondents felt that government actions stymied the competitiveness of U.S. firms, with 87% claiming that high taxes cause American companies to be competitively disadvantaged. Similarly identified as obstacles were government regulations such as "strict environmental regulations" (73%) and "tough rules governing trade and investment" (61%). Despite these concerns, more than 90% of respondents felt that they could compete "effectively" overseas, with nearly 60% stating that U.S. firms can compete "extremely well." Additionally, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is considered the strongest business alliance by 51% of survey respondents. Forty-three percent stated the European Union was the strongest business alliance. When considering what factors make U.S. companies competitive, performance management systems such as lean manufacturing and Six Sigma were prominently mentioned, with 87% of respondents stating that they made companies more successful. Product quality also was viewed as key with 57% believing that it "definitely results" in driving increased profits. Celerant Consulting is a London-based provider of strategy and information services. Lieberman Research Worldwide is a Los Angeles-based custom marketing research firm.