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Business Characteristics Survey
 
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    NAME OF ORGANISATION
    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    OVERVIEW

    The Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) is an annual survey and it is the vehicle for the ABS' Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS). The strategy integrates the collection and quality assurance of data required for input into both ABS Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) and the production of point in time estimates for: use of information technology, innovation; and, a broad range of other non-financial characteristics. A key part of the IBCS is the production of annual use of information technology and innovation indicators, with a more detailed set of items for each of these topics collected every second year (i.e. in alternating years). For example, the 2011-12 BCS collected detailed information relating to the use of information technology by Australian businesses.

    The first BCS was conducted in 2004-05; this survey collected business characteristics data required for the BLD only. The 2005-06 was the first integrated survey and combined the collection of general business characteristics required for the BLD with the collection of items previously collected in the Business Use of Information Technology (BUIT) survey and some summary indicators previously collected in the Survey of Innovation in Australian Business. The 2006-07 survey collected general business characteristics and more detailed innovation data.

    The sample design for this survey is complex due it serving dual purposes: collection of characteristics data for the ABS' BLD; and production of point in time estimates. While there are scope differences between the BLD and point in time estimates, the intention is to maximise the number of businesses selected for which data collected can contribute to both purposes.

    The design variables for the BCS population outputs are the proportion of businesses undertaking internet commerce (placing and/or receiving orders) and proportion of innovators. The target Standard Errors for the design variables are specified at the total Australian level and are comparable to that achieved for BUIT and approximately double that achieved for Innovation in the past. The targets then vary based on industry and employment size; they are broadly comparable to the quality achieved in previous surveys.

    The overall (once all panels have been birthed) target sample size is approximately 14,000 selections. For the 2012-13 BCS, of the total overall sample, approximately 6,500 selections contribute to BCS population estimates and 8,200 form part of the BLD panels (this means that around 2,200 selections are common to both the BLD and the population estimates). Careful consideration is being given to all aspects of sample design, particularly those which could result in more efficiencies and reduced provider load.

    The core IT and business characteristics content has remained relatively unchanged since 2006-07. In general, innovation content is more onerous and conceptually complex than IT content. Core business characteristics content includes the activity of the business, the number of locations, whether the business is home based; employment including casuals, full/part time, turnover and pay arrangements; age of business; foreign ownership; trade status; franchising and other co-operative arrangements; measures used to assess business performance; debt and equity finance; markets and competition; and, core annual indicators of innovation and IT use.


    PURPOSE
      The benefits of the Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS) include:
      • A more coherent and consistent set of business characteristic statistics covering a range of variables for the whole economy. The enhanced usefulness of business characteristics data will be possible through the integration of data collection as more data will be relatable.
      • Users will have greater ability to undertake cross-cutting research on the effects of various business practices on firm performance. This is the most significant benefit from the integration proposal.
      • Improved data quality through alignment of concepts, increased data confrontation, improved survey design and estimation methodologies, and consistent survey processes;
      • Flexibility of the collection vehicle to adapt to changing needs;
      • Reduced overall provider load due to two instead of three survey iterations every two years. In addition, the reuse of longitudinal data to contribute to cross-sectional estimates may result in a reduced overall sample size over the sample sizes required for separate surveys.
      • A more even spread of workload across years for internal ABS processing areas;
      • Ongoing ABS resource efficiencies in having two instead of the current three surveys covering Innovation and BUIT every two years, as well as efficiencies that may be garnered by any overlap in longitudinal and cross-sectional sample; and
      • More rapid development and adoption of best practice survey processes with associated reduced operational costs through the streamlining of business processes re-use of aspects of existing business processes, systems and methodologies.

      The BCS aims to collect key measures on business characteristics to develop more relevant and effective government industry policies, supporting the Australian businesses particularly, the small and medium businesses. The data collected will support the BLD and will be used to build a statistical longitudinal database for public and private sector analysts. It is aimed to provide users with business characteristics data augmented with financial data from administrative sources and other existing ABS surveys.

      Population and cross-classified outputs can be produced for most BCS content not just BUIT and Innovation The much larger volume of characteristics data (particularly, annual indicators of innovation and the ability to produce cross-classified outputs) has expanded the range of outputs.. These additional outputs, as well as the BLD CURF (and other analytical outputs), result in a substantial increase in the amount of these types of information. The BCS also enables the production of a range of statistics that is complementary to financial data produced by the Annual Industry Statistics (AIS) BSC.

      Key users of both the BLD and population (cross-classified) outputs are Department of Industry, Department of Communication, Productivity Commission, CSIRO, Department of Education, Department of Employment, Treasury, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment.

    SCOPE

    The scope of the BCS reflects the dual purpose of the survey program with different scopes for longitudinal unit record and population/cross sectional outputs:
    1. The scope of BCS population estimates are employing businesses based on the Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYGW) scheme in the industries specified. It is not unusual for some of these 'employing businesses' to have zero employment at various times during the reported period.
    2. The scope of the BLD is all businesses registered for an Australian Business Number (ABN) that remit GST and have an employment of less than 200. Additional sample is included for the BLD in relevant ANZSIC groups in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing; Manufacturing; and Wholesale Trade divisions to represent the “Food Industry” and enable more detailed analysis of this “Industry”.

    Both the BCS population estimates and the BLD also exclude:
    • SISCA 3000 General government
    • SICSA 6000 Rest of the world

    The BLD also exclude:
    • SISCA Sector 2 - Financial corporations
    • SISCA Sector 5 - Not-for-profit Institutions Serving Households
BCS
BLD
(Excluded are the ABSM Pop and emp >200)
BCS (BUIT/Innovation) cross sectional & population estimates
Division A - Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Yes
Yes
Division B - Mining
Yes
Yes
Division C - Manufacturing
Yes
Yes
Division D - Electricity, Gas and Water
No
Yes
Division E - Construction
Yes
Yes
Division F - Wholesale Trade
Yes
Yes
Division G - Retail Trade
Yes
Yes
Division H - Accommodation and Food Services
Yes
Yes
Division I - Transport, Postal and Warehousing
Yes
Yes
Division J - Information Media and Telecommunications
Yes
Yes
Division K - Financial and Insurance Services excluding Group 624 (Financial Asset Investing) and Group 633 (Superannuation Funds)
No
Partial
Division L - Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services
Yes
Yes
Division M - Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
Yes
Yes
Division N - Administrative and Support Services
Yes
Yes
Division O - Public Administration and Safety
No
No
Division P - Education and Training
No
No
Division Q - Health Care and Social Assistance
No
Yes
Division R - Arts and Recreational Services
Partial
Yes
Division R - Arts and Recreational Services Group 892 - Museums and Group 892 - Parks & Gardens
No
Yes
Division S - Other Services - Subdivision 94 (Repair and Maintenance)
Yes
Yes
Division S - Other Services - Group 951, 952, 953 (Other Personal Services)
Yes
Yes
Division S - Other Services - Group 954 (Religious Services)
No
No
Division S - Other Services - Group 955 (Civic, Professional & Other Interest Group Services)
No
No
Division S - Other Services - Subdivision 96 (Private households employing staff)
No
No


    DATA DETAIL

    Conceptual framework
    Conceptually, the BCS includes all 'economically active' businesses or business entities that have registered for an Australian Business Number (ABN), and have an active tax role; ie. remit GST for the BLD and Income Tax Withholding (ITW) for the population estimates. Further scoping is determined using the Standard Economic Classifications of Australia (SESCA) and the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC).

    As the focus of this survey is on the market sector of the economy, it includes all business sizes- small, medium and large. Large businesses do not contribute to the BLD but are included in population and cross-sectional estimates. Non-employing businesses, such as sole proprietorships and partnerships, are included in the BLD component. The survey excludes some industries, mainly because they are dominated by government enterprises or classified as non profit institutions serving households, which are less important from an industry policy viewpoint.

    Main outputs
    There will be two distinct streams of output for the BCS - longitudinal unit record level (BLD) and population/cross sectional estimates.

    The BLD will include characteristics data and other linked data, e.g. BIT, BAS, Trade and the resultant CURF(s) will provide a longitudinal view of small/medium business.

    Population estimates for data collected in the BCS will be produced for all business sizes. This will include the cross-classification of some outputs by innovator status; degree of foreign ownership and broadband use. In alternate years detailed population estimates for Innovation and Business Use of Information Technology will be produced (some of these will be cross-classified with other indicators collected on the form.

    Two form types were introduced for the first time in the 2006-07 BCS. There will now be a long form for the component of the sample that contributes to the production of population estimates and a short form for units included in the BLD only (these are predominantly units in the Agriculture, Forest and Fishing Division and non-employing businesses across all industries).

    Classifications

The standard classifications used for the survey are

    ANZSIC 06
    Size of business (based on reported employment) in standard ranges
    Size of business (based on income)

    Other concepts (summary)
    Concepts relating to Innovation are sourced from "Oslo Manual, Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data (Third Edition, 2005" publised by the OECD.

    GEOGRAPHIC DETAIL
    Australia

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    The sample is designed to produce efficient estimates for industry and employment size, therefore it does not provide quality estimates for states/territories. As esitmates may not reflect change over time for a selected state/territory or adequately enable comparison between states/territories, they are not available.

    COLLECTION FREQUENCY
    Annually

    Frequency comments


    COLLECTION HISTORY
    The BCS replaces three previously separate collections [survey component of the Business Longitudinal Database (BLD), Business Use of Information Technology (BUIT) and the Innovation Survey] and provides capacity to collect topical characteristics/activity information on a user pays basis.

    The Business Characteristics Survey, as a survey component of the BLD, evolved from the Growth and Performance Survey (GAPS). The GAPS was user funded, and was conducted from 1994-1995 to 1997-1998 inclusive.

    DATA AVAILABILITY
    Yes

    Data availability comments



    DATE OF LAST UPDATE FOR THIS DOCUMENT
    23/05/2014 01:12 PM



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