BLADE case studies

Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) provides a wealth of integrated financial and business characteristics data for all active businesses in Australia.

BLADE links ABS survey data with large administrative datasets held by government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, IP Australia and the Department of Home Affairs.

Analysts have supported the development of BLADE and are now using the data to evaluate the effectiveness of government programs and expand the evidence base for future business policy decisions.

Case Study 1 – Collaborative enhancement of the BLADE to inform business policy

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has partnered with Swinburne University and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) to showcase and enhance the analytical capabilities of the BLADE.

Swinburne University researchers are using BLADE data in a number of data-driven policy projects:

  • In partnership with IP Australia, the University is investigating the effects of changes in the Government’s intellectual property enforcement regime on the performance of design intensive firms. The recent addition of merchandise trade data in BLADE has allowed the University team to investigate firm-level imports and exports as an indication for entry into global value chains. Findings from this project will inform IP Australia’s review of the design rights system.
  • BLADE has made it possible for the University, together with DISER, to provide the first definitive evidence of the impact and breadth of any spillover effect in the Australian context. In economic terms, spillovers occur where the effects of an economic activity accrue to both those undertaking the activity, as well as to others. This evidence will be used to inform future policy and program development, including the R&D Tax Incentive program.
  • In collaboration with Austrade, University analysts are working on a set of methodologies to estimate the impact of their services and programs on Australia’s trade and investment. The analysis of merchandise trade data in BLADE allows analysts to build models to estimate Austrade’s impact on various industry groups exporting to different markets. The outcomes will provide evidence on how Austrade’s programs assist Australian companies to build export capabilities and activity in order to strengthen and diversify Australia’s export base.

Swinburne University’s contribution has helped to build understanding of, and confidence in, the BLADE asset and are now using BLADE to provide valuable insights into how businesses fare over time and the factors that drive performance, innovation, job creation, competitiveness and productivity.

Professor Beth Webster of Swinburne University, said “the creation and access of BLADE has been a game-changer in the objectivity and reliability of evidence for economic policy. It has put Australia on the international frontier for evidence-based policy making and this will ultimately promote better economic well-being.”

Case Study 2 – Use of integrated South Australian business data for economic analyses

This project piloted the integration of data from the BLADE with datasets from the Government of South Australia (SA), in order to assess the feasibility of creating an evidence base to better understand overall employment and industry performance in SA and inform economic policy development.

It was the first time that a jurisdiction’s business data was brought together with Commonwealth business data via the BLADE. The pilot project was a feasibility study of national significance and a pathfinder for other state or territory government linkage projects that may follow.

The integrated dataset was a valuable information asset that expanded the evidence base available to inform SA Government’s economic development policy. It was used to address a number of research purposes:

  • To replicate results from a research paper that looked at the impact of participation in the SA Innovation and Investment Funds (IIFs) on firm performance – confirming the finding of a modest but positive treatment effect on grant recipients
  • To enrich the business location information available for analysis by identifying the operations of businesses that employ workers in SA – using data from the state’s work injury insurance scheme about workplace locations and worker remuneration
  • To examine the employment effects of changes in SA’s payroll tax regime – with analysis findings consistent with estimates from a Tax and Transfer Policy Institute report prepared for the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  • To map clusters of related tradeable industries at a regional level – demonstrating the usefulness of the integrated dataset for grouping industries based on their tendency to co-locate within specific geographic boundaries
  • To assess the impact of mining projects on rural economies within the state – finding increases in average turnover, wages, employment and other indicators related to businesses in the Strathalbyn region
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of SA Government grants designed to encourage greater export and innovation activity in supporting growth as part of a broader analysis of factors contributing to firms achieving high growth status – finding that recipients achieved a higher incidence of high growth in general

The benefits that these insights provide will continue to be realised beyond the pilot phase. The SA Government is pursuing a second stage of this data sharing and integration project with the ABS. It will leverage the SA Business Research Environment and include more recent BLADE as well as longitudinal SA administrative data to inform policy relevant research that answers questions related to sectoral growth within the state.

The pilot project underwent a rigorous assessment and approval process, managed by the ABS, and was overseen by a Steering Group of senior officers from the SA Government, the ABS and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. Authorised researchers were granted access to de-identified microdata for policy analysis, research and statistical purposes.

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