About the KFS

The Kauffman Firm Survey (KFS) is the largest longitudinal study of new businesses ever embarked upon. The Kauffman Firm Survey (KFS) was commissioned by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and was conducted every year from 2005 to 2012 by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR). The survey contains detailed information on firm and owners' characteristics (up to ten active-owner-operators per firm) on 4,928 businesses started in 2004. These businesses were surveyed annually; collecting data on calendar years 2004 through 2011 resulting in eight years of panel data.

The Kauffman Firm Survey Map

The main objective of the survey was to further understand entrepreneurial activity, to longitudinally track new firms, to understand the dynamics of business development at the owner and the business level in the United States, and to close the informational gap related to new business development. By capturing the same type of information from the same business over time through data collection at multiple intervals (waves), the longitudinal nature of the KFS data provides opportunities for studying individual-level change over time as well as identifying the underlying dynamics of change. The KFS longitudinal data is organized in major sections that provide information about business characteristics, strategy and innovation, business organization and human resource benefits, business finances, work behavior, and ownership and demographics of up to ten active-owner-operators.

The KFS Target Population

The panel of businesses was created by using a random sample from Dun & Bradstreet’s (D&B) database list of new businesses started in 2004, which totaled roughly two hundred fifty-thousand such businesses. The KFS oversampled these businesses based on the intensity of research and development employment in the businesses’ primary industries. The KFS sought to create a panel that included new businesses founded by a person or team of people, purchases of existing businesses by a new ownership team, and purchases of franchises. To this end, the KFS excluded D&B records for businesses that were wholly owned subsidiaries of existing businesses, businesses inherited from someone else, and not-for-profit organizations. In response to the Kauffman Foundation’s interest in understanding the dynamics of high-technology, medium-technology, and woman-owned businesses, the KFS is a stratified sample based on industrial technology level (High-Tech, Medium-Tech, and Non-Tech) and gender, which oversamples businesses in high- and medium-tech industries.

For the 2004 to 2011 period, the KFS database contains detailed information on firm and owners' characteristics in the following areas:

  • Business Characteristics
  • Strategy and Innovation
  • Business Organization and Human Resource Benefits
  • Business Finances
  • Work Behaviors and Demographics of Owners