Business leaders believe the Government's reforms on issues including reducing tax and red tape and simplifying employment law, have been "ineffective", according to a new study.
Research among more than 1,200 members of the Institute of Directors also found "serious concerns" that the recession will continue for the rest of the year.
The directors said the coalition had struggled most at reducing tax complexity and business regulation.
Just over half of those polled predicted economic growth to be lower this year, while two out of three said there was a zero or low probability of the UK emerging from recession in 2012.
Graeme Leach, chief economist at the IoD, said: "Business is battening down the hatches in the expectation that the recession will continue for the rest of the year.
"That is bad news for the economy at large, because decisions to invest money or take on more staff are being postponed until things look up.
"Low confidence leads to delayed decisions, and delayed decisions further undermine economic confidence - it's a vicious cycle.
"At the same time, the Government's reform agenda is pointing in broadly the right direction, but the overwhelming opinion of our members is that they are doing too little, too slowly.
"If the coalition wants to break this cycle of low economic confidence, then they need to take some bold steps to make a real difference to the cost and complexity of doing business in the UK."