New Year of Kauffman Firm Survey Data Available

We have released 2008 data for the Kauffman Firm Survey panel of new businesses (public-use data and NORC Data Enclave confidential version). Covering the fifth year of operations, this data will provide new insights into how the recession has impacted young businesses in the U.S. We will be releasing an overview report on the data next week.

I wanted to point out one area of inquiry that we added to the questionnaire in 2008 that I am anxious for people to examine - investments in intangible assets. Specifically, we added the following series of questions:

  • F19b. Investments in intangible assets are expenditures expected to produce long-term benefits for businesses. I'm going to read you some types of intangible assets. When thinking about each category, please consider the cost of in-house activities in these areas including the time of the business owner(s), as well as services or license fees from outside providers. Did [NAME BUSINESS] have expenditures in [ITEM] in calendar year 2008?
  • a. The design of new and improved products and services
    b. Investments in software or databases?
    c. Brand development such as advertising or marketing?
    d. Organizational development such as company formation expenses or management consulting?
    e. Worker training?
    f. Any other intangible asset investments? (SPECIFY)
  • F19c. Thinking about all the intangible asset expenditures [LIST IF NECESSARY] you just told me about, please estimate [NAME BUSINESS]'s total expenses on intangible assets for calendar year 2008.
  • And the initial summary findings from 2008 on this topic are:

  • Half of firms made investments in intangible assets in 2008, compared with just 14 percent of firms investing in research and development (R&D). Intangible asset spending averaged $28,000 in 2008, while average R&D spending was more than $54,000. High-tech firms are much more likely to have patents, copyrights, or trademarks. R&D investment and investment in intangible assets also were much higher for high-tech firms than for non-tech firms in 2008.
  • If you are interested in reading more about the conceptualization behind these questions or other international work in this area, there is a working paper presented at the American Economic Association available and I believe future iterations of it are planned. In 2009 we will repeat the questions used here and expand the expenses question so that it is asked about each subcomponent reportedly used by the firm. Understanding further what sorts of investments businesses are making in what they perceive to be long-term payoffs is an important contribution to the more accurate measurement innovation so I can't wait to see what researchers make of this information!

    I want to give a big thanks to the Kauffman Firm Survey team for their continued outstanding work on this eight-year effort. Alicia Robb continues to show tremendous leadership as principal investigator and Dave Des Roches at Mathematica runs a tight ship in collecting the data. The fact that he and his team have been able to maintain an above 80 percent response rate in the fifth year of the panel is amazing. Tim Mulcahy and team at NORC have a great product in the Data Enclave. We are really excited to have Juan Carlos Suarez Serrato helping out as a part-time research assistant and John Mueller and Chris Crawford helping to develop the KFS Data Wiki (more on that in the next few weeks).

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    e.j. reedy data maven

    E. J. Reedy

    As a director in Research and Policy, E.J. Reedy oversees the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s research initiatives related to education, human capital development, and data.

    Since joining the Kauffman Foundation in 2003, Reedy has been significantly involved in the coordination of the Foundation’s entrepreneurship and innovation data-related initiatives, including the Kauffman Firm Survey, for which he served as a principal investigator, and the Foundation’s multi-year series of symposiums on data, as well as many web-related projects and initiatives. He is a globally recognized expert in entrepreneurship and innovation measurement and has consulted for a variety of agencies.