An economic slowdown remains the No. 1 risk facing businesses, according to Aon Corp.'s biennial Global Risk Management Survey of global risk managers and chief financial officers.

While new risks joined the list and others shifted in rank in this year's survey of organizations in 58 nations, economic slowdown also topped the list in Aon's previous survey in 2009.

“That actually was a little surprising when you think about the fact that it's been three years since the credit crisis and this is still topping the list of risk managers and chief financial officers and treasurers who responded,” said Theresa Bourdon, group managing director of Aon Global Risk Consulting, a unit of Aon.

More restrictive regulatory and legislative changes remained at No. 2, while increasing competition and damage to reputation/brand moved up the rankings to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.

The risk of business interruption dropped from third in the 2009 survey to No. 5 in this year's survey.

The survey collected 960 responses from private and publicly traded companies in various industries, up from 551 respondents in 2009, Aon said.

Ways in which companies reacted to the weak economy may have pushed risks into the top 10 concerns, Ms. Bourdon said.

“There was a lot of retrenchment from organizations as a result of the economy,” Ms. Bourdon said. “The kind of things companies had to do to survive during the recession, that's now having an impact on other areas of risk within their organization.”

For example, companies facing tight budgets may have held back spending on research and development, and information technology, causing innovation and technology to join the list of top risks, Ms. Bourdon said.

Another issue that came out of this year's survey that was not evident previously is how the speed and breadth of technology change affect organizations.

Several risks — such as hacking and network viruses, lack of technological infrastructure and loss of intellectual property or data — that did not make the top 10 risks still rose in priority among respondents.

“The ability to embrace and leverage technology is emerging as a dominant factor underlying many of the risks facing these organizations,” Bourdon said.