12/2/2009 9:00:00 AM By
According to a new Intel/Newsweek survey
, consumers remain confident in the role that innovation will play in driving future economic growth. While this is survey I suspect knew the storyline that it wanted to tell before even going to the field, I did find some aspects of their survey about perceptions of future technological innovation to be interesting. Here are a couple of paragraphs from their press release:
However, even as Americans see technological innovation as a key growth driver, they have significant doubts about their country's ability to hold on to global leadership. Despite many nations giving the United States credit for leadership in technology innovation today, only one-third of Americans saw themselves leading over the next 30 years.
Americans are not alone in their belief that they risk losing the mantle of innovation leadership. A large majority of Europeans gave technology innovation a nod for improved quality of life and positive economic impact. However, Europeans are even less optimistic than Americans about their own ability to be innovative long-term. Only 14 percent saw a European country leading on technology innovation in the future, and the rest ceded future leadership to nations such as China, Japan and India. In contrast, China shows strong confidence in its future strength as 54 percent of Chinese people predicted that their country will pioneer the next society-changing technology and overtake the United States in the next 30 years.
We have asked a similar question before (not that that makes me any more confident in its predictive nature). Think back to the perceptions created of Japan in the 1980s. As such, I'd take this with a grain of salt. Certainly media can influence attitudes significantly when it comes to a countries confidence. But I can also recognize how self-fulfilling defeatists attitudes can become. That is part of why we engaged in Global Entrepreneurship Week to try to positively affect the images and opportunities young people can find in entrepreneurship. Perhaps next years theme should try to take on perceptions of our abilities to innovate technologically?
11/30/2009 9:00:00 AM By
After the crazy financial environment of the last year, consumer finance (or household financial usage) surveys appear to be increasing in popularity or frequency. The Federal Reserve Board of Governors made a really astute decision to refield their popular Survey of Consumer Finance, last done in 2007, but not to implement a new 2009 cohort but rather to go back to their respondents from 2007 and collected panel data on the finances of these households. And apparently, they have added in some logic to their questionnaire such that if a respondent was a business owner in 2007 but not in 2009 they will ask what happened to that business. This holds great potential in studing entrepreneurial households. Unfortunately, the sample sizes here are so small that it the utility of the data could be limited depending on incidence rates.
Additionally, the World Bank is considering some expanded work in this area that if approved could be quite exciting. Also from the World Bank, a recent paper highlights some methodological issues about collecting data on financial service usage:
11/27/2009 9:00:00 AM By
At the beginning of the year, I posted on data available on college-age entrepreneurial interests
. In writing that post I determined that I wanted to see something more on what the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at the University of California, Los Angeles had to offer related to entrepreneurship questions. The result of this is a short paper which John Pryor and I released last week called "Trends in Business Interest Among U.S. College Students."
John did all the analysis work here but I helped to add in more context for entrepreneurship research since John doesn't have as much of an entrepreneurship research background.
11/26/2009 9:00:00 AM By
The 2008 U.S. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report
was released this week from Babson and Baruch Colleges. Showing significantly different trends from the Bureau of Labor Statistics data
which was included for the U.S. in the report from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
which I highlighted last week, GEM found increasing trends in "total entrepreneurial activity" in 2008.
For those of you not familiar with GEM, it is collected through a household survey in participating countries on activities related to nascent entrepreneurship - people in the process of starting a business - and people running young businesses. In that sense, GEM is probably closest in measurement concepts to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity
(KIEA). GEM has the advantage of explicitly asking about activities related to nascent entrepreneurship while the KIEA takes advantage of a large-scale government survey to look at transitions from being employed by someone else to being self-employed or a business owner. And while GEM reports to have a large enough sample size to disaggregate different types of growth trajectories, I don't believe it is really possible with a sample size of 2,000 for the whole United States. Perhaps if they had a sample size which was twice its current size.
It used to be that GEM was one of the first indicators to the hit the presses, making it of particular interest to the policy community since official statistics have historically been laggards. But that is no longer the case. Indeed, besides the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity and the OECD reports, I know that the Census Bureau is getting very close to releasing its updated Business Dynamics Series
through 2008 and the NETS database
has 2008 data out (I'll be posting on that more in the next couple of days). If GEM loses its timeliness factor and there continue to be concerns on the squishiness of the data it collects, then I fear the last legs of this effort might come off. It is an effort with many merits, which is why we were involved as a funder for many years - don't get me wrong. Being able to buy time on omnibus surveys can be very economical and as such I still know many researchers who utilize this function.
11/19/2009 7:53:50 AM By
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Entrepreneurship Indicators Project has a new report out of entrepreneurship indicators
which is most notable for the timely data they have collected on firm (or in some cases establishment) entry and exit
. It is clear that that entry of employer firms (those not just entering self-employment) has been negatively affected in the current downturn while business exits have increased. We'll be highlighting some of our thoughts on this report in various locations in the coming week and I'll be sure to post those. Also notable additions to country coverage (welcome Brazil, in particular!) and an increase in data gathered from third parties on inputs into entrepreneurship.
11/12/2009 9:00:00 AM By
Traci Mach and Arthur Kennickell at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors were nice enough to share with me a memo documenting the final questions
that will be used on the 2010 Survey of Consumer Finance
related to their expanded coverage of households with members who business owners. I've posted before on this topic, specifically pointing to a 2008 paper
that Traci and Arthur did on this subject and a more recent report after visiting Traci and Arthur
which is what actually led to this memo. Their memo is a nice complement to conference presentation from 2008 and gives us insight into some areas where their cognitive testing of the questions led to changes in proposed questions.
While their memo
speaks for itself, this is a blog and as such I can't resist sharing some of my reactions:
- Equity shares. Traci and Arthur highlight how difficult it is to determine equity allocations among different owners of a business, particularly when there are multiple owners within a household. We experienced similar difficulties when designing the Kauffman Firm Survey. Most business surveys don't get into equity financing, choosing to stay in the easier to ask about debt financing. While I think the approach put forth for the SCF makes sense and what we did in the Kauffman Firm Survey works well, equity is something which is often less delineated than most of us would expect. Who owns what, exactly, may not be fully articulated.
- Sales vs. income. Traci and Arthur discuss their surprise in how difficult it was for some small businesses to answer sales vs. income questions. This doesn't surprise me at all and is what has made me leery of business questions which try to be too simplistic. It's also a reminder to entrepreneurship scholars conducting their own survey work that they should be careful to ensure good definitions, clear questions, and keep things simple and detailed to ensure the responses they get are on the intended subjects.
- Collateralization and net worth of business. I've never seen a survey that asked about actual collateral used on loans or net worth of a business. I'll be very curious to see if they can get good responses here. I would be much more comfortable with getting some sort of administrative source of data for the collateralization question rather than a survey response but there are not great sources available here. I saw one source which Dun and Bradsteet reportedly sells but it was unclear to me on review if the source was reliable. And on the net worth of the business, this could be a potentially great question if answerable. I know we've been requested to add something similar to the Kauffman Firm Survey in the past but the whole idea of asking respondents a current value of their business if sold seems quite difficult conceptually.
- Really of use? There are some questions included here I just doubt will be useful, specifically about the sources of start-up capital and current year financing. Given the amount of space that the SCF has here, I know why the questions are as short as they are but really what use will the data be to know that the business owners used a certain source of capital without any info on amounts?
The SCF has tried admirably to expand into covering more on business ownership but the U.S. needs a separate survey focused on business financing to adequately address this complicated but important topic.
11/11/2009 9:32:22 AM By
Friday, I was at an advisory committee meeting of the Statistics of Income (SOI) Division at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
. I wanted highlight one presentation and discussion from the SOI, and staffer Nick Greenia in particular, who continues to look very thoughtfully at their data dissemination activities. In their comments, I see a recognition of the value of engaging researchers in increasing the quality as well as understanding of their data. IRS is proceeding slowly with a researcher-engagement agenda but indicated at the meeting they would have a new call coming out in the next few months for research proposals. When this comes out, I will post a link.
Additionally, Mr. Greenia outlined a theme that I think most federal agencies are wrangling with currently - the increasing risk which public-use microdata files pose in a world of increasing data availability. For a definition of a public-use microdata file, I turned to Statistics Canada which has a definition online
as, "Microdata files that have been carefully anonymized (i.e., all identifying information has been removed) and scrutinized to ensure that no risk of breach of individual privacy or confidentiality exists." The concern is that as people make more information available about themselves online the level to which public-use data files must be stripped of content to keep them anonymous makes them of little relevance for most research. So what does Mr. Greenia propose? He doesn't come down in favor of any one option but highlights many of the advantages and disadvantages of the emerging solutions:
- Synthetic public-use data files
- Virtual data enclaves
- Data research centers
Mr. Greenia has been nice enough to consent to my posting of a PDF of his presentation
so you can read his thoughts directly.
Additionally, I thought I'd highlight that SOI released some updated tables on business financing
last week. These are aggregate tables, not the type of files I highlighted here, but still of interest for some research purposes.
11/6/2009 9:29:23 AM By
The Census Bureau's Local Employment Dynamics (LED)
has a call for papers out for its March 10-12, 2010, conference in Washington, D.C
. This is a program with some already innovative products such as On the Map
which looks at where workers are employed compared to where they live, but in my estimation, LED has only just begun. It is a program which will only become full funded in the next couple of years, if things go well, but the possibilities of useful products are almost endless. Work is underway, as I understand, at Census to expand the matched data to include the self-employed as well as to look more specifically at products which would be of interest to different audiences such as regional and state policy makers.
11/3/2009 12:45:45 PM By
Global Entrepreneurship Week
2009 is almost here so I wanted to take a minute to highlight some of the more common sources on international data about entrepreneurship.
Scott Shane had a nice posting on the NY Times blog
last week using the World Bank Group Entrepreneurship Survey. Currently the last data from that project was collected at the beginning of 2008. The World Bank will be collecting two more years of data beginning in 2010. The data currently cover approximately one hundred countries. The data is not fully comparable across countries but it attempts to encourage comparability by looking at only one type of business registration, limited liability corporations, which the authors contend is the most consistent legal form across countries. Also see upcoming event at the World Bank
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will be releasing data next week on 23 economies
. Drawing official data from national statistical offices, the OECD tabulations are of most interest for the study of developed economies but get into many aspects of growth firms like gazelle firms and high-growth firms in the economy.
Last week, the Legatum Institute put out a new version of their Prosperity Index
(which has an entrepreneurship component). According to their most recent index, “Entrepreneurs at the micro level need good economic policies at the macro level. Innovation and entrepreneurship are more strongly related to economic fundamentals than any other factor in a society. Aspiring entrepreneurs will often hit a 'ceiling' limiting their success if a nation’s economy is not fundamentally strong.” There isn't anything there I would disagree with. I am having some trouble finding the data details in their current report but as I remember, for many of their items, they rely on data from the Gallup World Poll, but interestingly entrepreneurship is not one of those items. The Gallup World Poll does have some data available on entrepreneurship, although it is not as readily available as other sources. A case study in what Gallup collects on many countries is included in this write-up on South Africa
And lastly, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)
continues to collect data on nascent entrepreneurship and some other aspects of entrepreneurship. In our experience, countries must be aware of country-level quality issues related to the vendors which were used in collection but these data remain useful in some areas of cross-country study.
10/15/2009 10:44:10 AM By
Over the last few years, I have seen only a few topics spread quickly across surveys - user innovation, management practices, and effectuation. Effectuation (read definition
) is definitely the topic from this list which I feel I understand the least so I hope to learn more in the next year. Effectuation is a concept which was raised by Saras D. Sarasvathy at Darden
but now has a much larger community of scholars involved in its exploration. Indeed, you can read more about effectuation on a website created on the topic
. There are several upcoming workshops for doctoral students and educators on the topic. Additionally, another event is coming up on the topic in December 2009:
A number of people initiating effectuation-related research have asked for a dedicated forum to present, discuss and gain feedback on their work. It sounded like such a good suggestion that we set aside time for a meeting in December. The idea is to bring together doctoral students and faculty who have active work on the area and focus on theoretical, design, analysis and publishing strategy aspects of their projects with a purely developmental eye. Any self-selected stakeholder will be included, given an active project they are willing to share. The specifics of the meeting are as follows:
When: 8:30am, Tuesday December 15th to 5:00pm, Wednesday December 16th, 2009.
Where: Palo Alto, California
Requirement: The only requirement is that participants provide a working paper for us to share and discuss at the meeting.
Cost: There is no cost to attend. You pay for your own transportation and lodging.
Deadline: Please respond with a working paper by October 15th if you would like to participate.