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Businesses with a simple structure - Most businesses and organisations in Australia need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN). They are then included on the whole-of-government register of businesses, the Australian Business Register (ABR), which is maintained by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Most of these businesses have simple structures; therefore, the unit registered for an ABN will satisfy ABS statistical requirements. For these businesses, the ABS has aligned its statistical units structure with the ABN unit. The businesses with simple structures constitute the ATO maintained population (ATOMP), and the ABN unit is used as the statistical unit for all ABS economic collections.
Businesses with a complex structure - For the population of businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical requirements, the ABS maintains its own units structure through direct contact with the business. These businesses constitute the ABS maintained population (ABSMP). This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse businesses. For businesses in the ABSMP, statistical units comprise the Enterprise Group, the Enterprise and the Type of Activity Unit (TAU). The range of activities across the Enterprise Group can be very diverse. The TAU represents a grouping of one or more business entities within the Enterprise that cover all of the operations within an industry subdivision and for which a basic set of financial data, production and employment can be reported.
6 Together these two sub-populations (of ABN units and TAUs) make up the ABSBR population, from which the BCS sample is taken.
7 The current economic statistics units model was introduced into the ABS in mid 2002, to better use the information available as a result of The New Tax System (TNTS). For more information please refer to Information Paper: Improvements in ABS Economic Statistics - Arising from the New Tax System.
SCOPE AND COVERAGE
8 The businesses that contribute to the statistics in this publication are classified;
9 The scope of the estimates in this publication consists of all business entities in the Australian economy, except for:
SISCA 6000 Rest of the world
ANZSIC06 Division O Public administration and safety
ANZSIC06 Division P Education and training
ANZSIC06 Groups 624 (Financial asset investing) and 633 (Superannuation funds)
ANZSIC06 Groups 854 (Religious services) and 955 (Civic, professional and other interest group services)
ANZSIC06 Subdivision 96 Private households employing staff
10 As part of the final stages of implementation of the Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS), the scope of the point in time estimates was changed in 2009-10 and expanded to include employing businesses in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry. As a result, data within this release are not comparable to releases prior to 2009-10.
11 The frame for the Business Characteristics Survey is a subset of the ABS Business Register and includes employing businesses only. These are defined as those businesses which register for the ATO's Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYGW) scheme. It is not unusual for some of these 'employing businesses' to have zero employment at various times during the reporting period. The frame is updated quarterly to take account of new businesses, businesses which have ceased employing, changes in employment levels, changes in industry and other general business changes. Businesses which have ceased employing are identified when the ATO cancels their Australian Business Number (ABN) and/or PAYGW registration. In addition, businesses with less than 50 employees, which did not remit under the PAYGW scheme in each of the previous five quarters, are removed from the frame. The estimates in this publication include an allowance for the time it takes a newly registered business to be included in the survey frame.
12 The sample design for this survey is complex due to it serving dual purposes: collection of characteristics data for the ABS Business Longitudinal Database (BLD); and production of point in time estimates for a range of non-financial business characteristics. 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. More information about releases for the BLD is provided in Explanatory Note 28. For more information about the survey design or methodology for the BCS, please email your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.
13 Collection of data included in this release was undertaken based on a random sample of approximately 9,000 businesses using a mail-out questionnaire. The sample was stratified by industry and an employment-based size indicator. All businesses on the ABS Business Register identified as having 300 or more employees were included in the sample. The 2010-11 BCS was dispatched in late October 2011.
14 As in previous years, the sample design of the 2010-11 BCS does not include state or territory as part of stratification design.
15 The reference period for most of the characteristics items included in the 2010-11 Business Characteristics Survey is during the year ended 30 June 2011 or as at 30 June 2011. Financial data relates to the most recent financial year ended on or before 30 September 2011.
DEFINING "INTERNET COMMERCE"
16 In the BCS (and previous BUIT surveys), the ABS uses the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) narrow definition of e-commerce transactions when collecting data on internet orders and internet income. The narrow definition states that "an internet transaction is the sale or purchase of goods or services, whether between businesses, households, individuals, governments, and other public or private organisations, conducted over the internet. The goods and services are ordered over the internet, but the payment and the ultimate delivery of the good or service may be conducted on or off-line" (i.e., the commitment to purchase is made over the internet). In Australia, orders placed or received via email are included. This is not the case in many other OECD countries. The broad definition of e-commerce transactions includes sale or purchase of goods and services via any other computer-mediated networks. This mode of e-commerce is not common in Australia.
17 Internet income is defined as income resulting from goods and services ordered over the internet where the commitment to purchase is via the internet. Excluded from these measures are orders, payments or transactions for which the commitment has been made using other arrangements. The ABS collects these data by asking businesses to estimate what percentage of their income from sales of goods and/or services can be attributed to orders received via the internet. The estimated value of internet income is derived by applying the percentage to business income from sales of goods and/or services. This method of collecting internet income has been put in place to address reporting errors previously observed when the actual dollar figure was requested.
18 The 2010-11 BCS draws on the conceptual definitions and guidelines included in the 'Oslo Manual, Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data' (Third Edition, 2005). This manual provides a framework for the collection of innovation statistics and specifies the definitions of innovating businesses and innovation-active businesses that are used by the ABS. The 2010-11 BCS draws on this manual for the questions used in the BCS and in the presentation of outputs from the survey.
19 Key indicators of innovation include: measures of business innovation (innovating, innovation-active); types of innovation (goods or services, operational processes, organisational/managerial processes, marketing methods); and status of innovation (introduced, still in development, abandoned). Definitions for each of these measures of business innovation are provided in the Glossary.
BUSINESS COUNTS IN THIS RELEASE AND COMPARABILITY WITH OTHERS PUBLISHED BY THE ABS
20 Estimates of the number of businesses operating in Australia can be derived from a number of sources within the ABS. They may relate to a particular point in time or may be presented as an average annual figure. However, these estimates will not always show the same results. Variations will occur because of differing data sources, differing scope and coverage definitions between surveys, as well as variations due to sampling and non-sampling error. More information about business counts can be found in the information paper A Statistical View of Counts of Businesses in Australia (cat. no. 8162.0).
21 The Business Characteristics Survey is not designed to provide high quality estimates of numbers of businesses for any of the output classifications (for example, employment size or industry) and the number of businesses in this publication are only included to provide contextual information for the user. A more robust source of counts of Australian businesses is available from Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Jun 2007 to Jun 2011 (cat. no. 8165.0).
22 For output purposes, businesses are classified to employment size ranges based on actual data reported in the survey. For industry output, the classification is drawn from information held about the business on the ABS Business Register.
AVAILABILITY OF STATE/TERRITORY OUTPUTS
23 As indicated in Explanatory Note 14, the sample is designed to produce efficient estimates for industry and employment size, therefore it does not provide quality estimates for states/territories. As estimates may not reflect change over time for a selected state/territory or adequately enable comparison between states/territories, they are not available.
UPCOMING RELATED RELEASES
24 Upcoming ABS data releases from the 2010-11 Business Characteristics Survey are:
Selected Characteristics of Australian Business, 2010-11 (cat. no. 8167.0). This release will include summary characteristics data for a selection of topics including business structure and arrangements, performance measures, barriers to innovation and general business activities or performance, government financial assistance, finance sought, markets and competition, innovation rates and IT usage. Online content will include tables and graphs with associated commentary. Detailed data (including some output cross-classified by business size, industry and innovator status) will be output as data cubes. This release is scheduled for 13 September 2012.
MOST RECENT RELATED RELEASES
25 The most recent issue of ABS releases related to demography of Australian business is:
26 The most recent issues of other ABS releases related to innovation in business in Australia are:
Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education Organisations, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 8111.0)
Research and Experimental Development, Business, Australia, 2009-10 (cat. no. 8104.0)
Research and Experimental Development, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 8109.0)
Research and Experimental Development, All Sector Summary, Australia 2008-09 (cat. no. 8112.0)
Patterns of Innovation in Australian Businesses, 2005 (cat. no. 8163.0)
27 The most recent issues of other ABS releases on the use and production of information and communication technologies (ICT) in Australia are:
Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2010-11 (cat. no. 8146.0)
Business Use of Information Technology, 2009-10 (cat. no. 8129.0)
Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 8150.0)
Information and Communication Technology, Australia, 2006-07 (cat. no. 8126.0)
Patterns of Internet Access in Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 8146.0.55.001)
BUSINESS LONGITUDINAL DATABASE - CONFIDENTIALISED UNIT RECORD FILE
28 The primary outputs from the BLD are Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs). The BLD design is comprised of panels (or waves) with each panel representing the entire population of in-scope small and medium businesses at the time of initialisation. Each panel is surveyed for five years. The most recent edition of the BLD CURF was released 21 December 2011 and contained the full five years of data for Panels One and Two. The CURF is available via the Remote Access Data Laboratory which can be accessed via the ABS website (cat. no. 8168.0.55.001).
29 Other information relating to Information Technology (both supply and demand), innovation and characteristics of business, particularly updates about additional analytical work can be found on the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>; see the Innovation, Science and Technology Home page under Themes/Industry. Readers can also subscribe to the six monthly Innovation and Technology Update (cat. no. 8101.0).
30 Estimates of proportions have been calculated using unrounded figures, but are shown in the tables rounded to one tenth of a percentage point. Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between the sum of the component items and the total. Figures presented in the commentary have been rounded to the whole percentage.
31 The ABS welcomes comments and suggestions from users regarding business characteristics including IT and innovation statistics. These comments should be addressed to the Director, Innovation and Technology Business Statistics Centre, Australian Bureau of Statistics, GPO Box K881, Perth, WA, 6842, or email email@example.com.
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