7/24/2009 9:06:31 AM By
The Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration is looking for research proposals for their upcoming year of reports. They do an annual solicitation
looking for research proposals on a set of specific topics, all of which are relevant to the entrepreneurship community. The deadline is approaching quickly - August 14, 2009 - so be sure to take a look soon!
7/23/2009 9:42:12 AM By
One of the first questions when doing a national business survey is the question of what businesses to use as the population for the survey. This is one which many organizations, like ourselves, struggle with in an ongoing basis. While we are a private organization, and as such, could not hope of getting the "gold standard" of frames, a government business register, even with the United States government and within the European Union directorates, few agencies are able to access Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, or Internal Revenue Service pr similar business lists for the purposes of carrying out surveys. As such, federal agencies and private organizations like Kauffman are forced to go down a different route to obtain business lists which can, if not carefully considered, impact the overall quality of the research. But beyond this, an additional cost is born by taxpayers, businesses, and others more generally, because when using a non-governmental register of businesses, it becomes much more complicated to match survey responses to other administrative data. With this, we end up with a lot of independent surveys, few of which can actually be matched together, causing the surveys to be longer than really necessary and knowledge gained about different issues to be stymied. There are a host of privacy issues here which I am not going to address, but anyone seriously concerned with this topic should look at that topic separately.
Private organizations have popped up to provide these lists, some that are specific to different industries, such as Corptech
, which claims to cover high-tech businesses, while others like Dunn and Bradstreet
report to provide full industry coverage on the national level with international coverages that are very country-specific. And even companies like Dunn and Bradstreet allow others to repackage and sell their data, such as what Don Walls does with the NETS database
But how do these different lists compare to federal government lists? Private companies provide the data in a much quicker fashion and I would say the general consensus is that this benefit is offset by more messiness in the data. While some messiness is involved in any data set, as researchers are increasingly using micro data sets and not just aggregated tabulations, non-random messiness can become a problem. Many of these companies didn't start collecting this data for research purposes but more for marketing or credit checks. As the Internet has blown up, and companies have come to realize the value in some of this data, more products have appeared over time. Some work was done in the 1990s by entrepreneurship scholars to test the coverage of the private sources, but the reality is that not much has been done, to my knowledge, in at least ten years looking at a systematic comparison of advantages and disadvantages of some of these business registers. From conversations with others about the NETS database, as an example, we know that the last ten years have brought about a lot of changes in the population of businesses these private companies are able to find and include in their registers. This can create new opportunities but also real challenges for researchers looking to use the longitudinal component of these data.
I am aware of at least two projects that are underway in this arena that might be able to provide insights into some of the different private business registers (as well as governmental business registers). The first, and it appears furthest along of the projects, is comparing Census data to InfoUSA. I will be attending the 2009 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) in Washington, DC, in August and hope to attend the session at which this comparison will be presented
. The second project which I have heard alluded to several times is that Census is matching the California file of businesses from NETS to its business register to study similarities and differences. Both of these efforts should be informative to researchers and I will try to follow-up with additional details of the outcomes of this research in future posts. At the JSM, other register issues will be discussed including some international examples such as that of Finland
. Nordic countries, by most accounts, have the most robust registers so that might be an interesting section. If other projects are underway that are comparing private and governmental registers, I would appreciate an email
7/22/2009 5:39:22 PM By
The World Wide Web Consortium and XBRL International are holding a "Workshop on Improving Access to Financial Data on the Web" in Arlington, Virginia, on October 5-6, 2009, to discuss an important concept in finance research - meta tagging. XBRL has been around for several years and has been adopted fairly widely according to the organizers but progress remains to be seen. I first heard of XBRL when working to support or President on the Department of Commerce's Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy - Advisory Committee
. Read the full conference call
and extract goals of the workshop:
The goal of this workshop is to identify opportunities and challenges for interactive access to financial data expressed in XBRL and related languages, and the broader opportunities for semantic technologies. What are the use cases? Who are the stakeholders? What are the potential roadblocks and how can they be addressed? How can new applications be created based upon integrating XBRL with other sources of information?
The main outcome of the workshop will be the publication of a report that will serve as a guide for further work in both W3C and XBRL International.
7/22/2009 5:32:49 PM By
7/22/2009 4:10:59 PM By
The National Science Foundation has put out a call for topics
to be included in their 2011 Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program
. Comments can be submitted through their website
by September 15, 2009.
TOPICS AND AWARDS TO DATE - In FY 2007 and FY 2008 EFRI funded a total of 24 interdisciplinary proposals in four topic areas. Each proposal was funded at approximately a total of $2M over four years. You can review these EFRI topics and awards by accessing the EFRI website (www.nsf.gov/eng/efri). The FY 2009 Award decisions are currently underway. There have been 8 topics that have been chosen for use in EFRI solicitations thus far. The FY 2007 EFRI topics were: 1) Autonomously Reconfigurable Engineered Systems Enabled by CyberInfrastructure (ARES-CI); and 2) Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE). The FY 2008 EFRI topics were: 1) Cognitive Optimization and Prediction: From Neural Systems to Neurotechnology (COPN); and 2) Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructures (RESIN). The FY 2009 EFRI topics are: 1) BioSensing & BioActuation: Interface of Living and Engineered Systems (BSBA); and Hydrocarbons from Biomass (HyBi). The planned topics for the FY 2010 EFRI solicitation are: 1) Renewable Energy Storage (RESTOR); and 2) Science in Energy and Environmental Design (SEED): Engineering Sustainable Buildings.
7/21/2009 12:59:34 PM By
Reports out this morning from the official monitoring the Troubled Asset Relied Program for the U.S. Congress
highlight the difficulty of tracking the success of this program because of a lack of data. These reports reminded me of a recent presentation I sat through from Statistics Canada discussing two of their programs for monitoring lending to small businesses in Canada. A bit more background on the two projects as I understand them.
- Survey on Financing of Small and Medium Enterprises. Completed every three years, with most recent data available from 2007, this survey gets detailed business financing data from establishments. You can read much more on the details of sampling, etc.
- Survey of Suppliers of Business Financing. Completed on roughly the same cycle but gathering data from banks instead of businesses, this survey gets aggregate information on bank portfolios. Read more on the details.
What I found most interesting about hearing Statistics Canada talk about both collection efforts back-to-back was the informal comments that were given about the merits of collecting data from banks rather than businesses. As I remember, the comments basically alluded to the difficult time that Statistics Canada has of getting banks to provide data for their survey, even though the survey is mandatory under Canadian statutes. On the survey of businesses, they have a much easier time of getting the data, relatively, and have felt they are able to do more detailed manipulations with the data, providing richer outputs, and helping that program to have more stable funding support.
What I read into these stories is that banks hold a great deal of power in deciding who gets what information, even when the world is watching closely or statutes compel them to participate.
7/21/2009 11:42:39 AM By
Just a quick follow-up to a post on housing data
from a couple of weeks ago. I had a good call with Harriet Newburger
at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia (Department of Community Affairs) who was one of the organizers of the event. In her estimation the topic of entrepreneurship as it relates to housing data had not come up at the conference in question. Most of the focus of the event had been on getting better foreclosure data and they expect a summary publication in the coming months on the event. We both agreed this is an area that has great research potential given data coming from court records and other services on foreclosure and the opportunity to tie that public data into different data sets on businesses, although neither of us is aware of work underway in the area. Certainly in doing so, the distinction between how the housing crisis will affect self-employment would be a different topic than its relationship to employer businesses.
7/21/2009 10:20:33 AM By
Paul Reynolds is organizing an interesting PDW at the 2009 Academy of Management
highlighting studies looking at nascent entrepreneurship in specific countries. These are all panel data sets.
Friday, 7 August 2009
8:00 to 10:30am
Hyatt Regency Hotel
Room Columbus H
7/20/2009 12:40:49 PM By
7/20/2009 8:52:09 AM By
We continue to hear a lot of talk of coming improvements to government use of data and dissemination. This article highlights some of the discussion related to tracking the recovery
. There doesn't seem to be much traction in updating existing agency Web pages in this discussion. Instead, it seems the administration will build new interfaces through new sites (recovery.gov and data.gov, for example) and attempt to bypass some of the existing infrastructure.