BLADE Research Projects


All projects that use BLADE data must go through a rigorous assessment and approval process, managed by the ABS. Only authorised researchers will be granted access to de-identified BLADE data for policy analysis, research, and statistical purposes.

All projects are assessed under the Five Safes Framework. For a project to be approved, the ABS and the data custodians (the agencies that collect the data) must agree to the proposed use of the data. The project must be assessed as being in the public interest and be in accordance with the legislation of the relevant agencies. All users are legally obliged to use data responsibly for approved purposes, comply with the conditions of access, and maintain confidentiality of data.

To enquire about any of the projects listed below, including potential research collaboration, or to apply for access to BLADE data, please email:

Below is a list of approved research projects that use BLADE data, listed under the following categories:

This page will be updated on a quarterly basis.


Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)

Impact Assessment of Austrade’s services (2019)

This project assists Austrade to establish a set of consistent, objective methodologies designed to provide robust quantitative estimates of the impact of many of Austrade’s services and programs aimed at promoting Australia’s trade and investment. The outcomes can provide evidence for how Austrade assists in strengthening Australia’s export base and investment, while shedding light on the areas requiring further attention.

Understanding structural change: A statistical analysis of the accommodation sector (2018)

This research examines a range of performance metrics for accommodation providers, measuring the extent of change over time and where reliable, providing analysis at the tourism region level. Analysis topics include characteristics of businesses entering and leaving the industry, the extent of change amongst existing businesses and the survival rate of new businesses.

Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics

Estimating the wider economic benefits of agglomeration (2019)

The wider economic benefits from transport infrastructure projects are a new concept in the practice of transport appraisal. There is currently a need to develop a more robust set of parameter value estimates with which to quantify productivity gains from greater agglomeration caused by transport infrastructure projects. This project will address this need by developing a set of parameter value estimates using the best data available, with nationwide applicability.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

Integrated Analysis for Sustainable Regional Development: Northern Australia with Indigenous extension (2018)

This project demonstrates the use of data to identify opportunities for regional economic development. The Indigenous extension pilot will seek to provide land and water policy-relevant insights for Indigenous communities and industries of the Darwin region.

Water and society: the relationship between water conditions and regional socio-economic and human health outcomes (2018)

This project will provide new insights into how water conditions impact socio-economic metrics i.e. taking into account the flow, volume, and allocation of water for a given purpose, and how access to water affects communities. It will prototype benefits through a data-driven, robust and repeatable approach to being able to assess how decisions about water sharing will impact or benefit community and change over time.

Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Data Integration Project (2019)

This study will develop a better understanding of the effects of climate variability on the productivity and profitability of Australian farms, establishing the relationships between climate conditions (i.e., rainfall and temperature) and farm production and financial outcomes.

Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

Characteristics of businesses placed with a job seeker under Job Services Australia (2018)

While government funded employment services help around 30 000 job seekers find jobs each month, little is known about the businesses hiring these job seekers. This project provides Government with a better picture of the characteristics of businesses which hired job seekers under the Job Services Australia model in 2014-15, informing policy development, program delivery and shaping future related research.

Wage subsidies and business dynamics (2018)

This project uses integrated data from the Department of Jobs and Small Business' Employment Services System (ESS) and BLADE to identify the characteristics of businesses that have used wage subsidies provided through the Government’s employment services program to investigate how utilisation of wage subsidies is linked to business dynamics.

Department of the Environment and Energy

Industrial Energy Productivity (2019)

This project seeks to understand business energy decisions by investigating micro-level energy productivity, and the extent to which there is an energy productivity gap.

Socio Economic Analysis (2019)

This project will analyse unit-level data assets held by the ABS (MADIP and BLADE) to create socio-economic profiles that the Department of the Environment and Energy could start to use in decision making as part of its core business.

Indigenous Environmental Programs: Social-Economic Analysis (2019)

This project will assess, discover and synthesise new evidence in existing government datasets that highlights the return on investment from Australian Government support for Indigenous environmental programs.

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Collaborative R&D and firm performance (2018)

This paper examines the impact of collaborative R&D on firms’ value added using fixed effects regression. It estimates how the effects of collaborative R&D accumulate in the years following R&D activity and finds statistically and economically significant benefits emerging after two years.

Comparing R&D data sources (2018)

This project aims to improve understanding of the relationship between Business Expenditure on Research and Development (as collected by the ABS Survey of Research and Experimental Development, Businesses), the registration of claims under the Australian Government’s R&D Tax Incentive (RDTI) Programme and expenditure paid to those firms who registered for the RDTI. This project aims to undertake a data exercise between ABS’ RDBS, the RDTI and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to determine the extent to which firms register and report different R&D expenditure, and what factors may account for differences, such as firm size and industry. The project will also look at which firms register for RDTI and examine the characteristics of R&D active firms.

Better understanding Industry Growth Centre firms (IGCs) (2018)

This project will paint a clearer picture of the composition of IGCs’ firm characteristics (employment, turnover and value-added, amongst others), and particularly their productivity dynamics and export performance to assess if publicly funded industry and business assistance measures are delivering outcomes as intended.

Business performance of participants in the Tasmanian Innovation and Investment Funds (2018)

This research builds on previous Department of Industry, Innovation and Science research by assessing the impact of participation in Tasmanian Innovation and Investment Funds (IIFs) on firm performance, using BLADE data to construct a counterfactual. The findings may be used to help create better targeted and more effective policy design.

Do manufacturing firms in Australia have (or develop) a productivity advantage? (2018)

This project focuses on entering firms and compares their productivity to other incumbent firms. The project will also characterise young firms that are more productive than incumbents and highlight the role of industry and innovation clusters in developing this productivity advantage.

Output from this research:

Drivers of the changes in Australian entrepreneurship trends (2018)

Integrated firm level data products such as BLADE offer increasing opportunities for insights into the economy, allowing analysis of elements of productivity performance such as entrepreneurship, innovation and management capability. In light of a decline in entrepreneurship, this study aims to find reasons why the number of entrepreneurs has declined and increase the evidence base needed to inform policy.

Output from this research:

Government financial assistance as a catalyst for private financing (2018)

This project uses the Taxation Data and Business Characteristics Survey components of the BLADE to determine whether government assistance has an impact on a firm’s credit worthiness, and therefore its ability to obtain external financing. The findings will shed light on the indirect benefits of government financial assistance, and provide evidence to facilitate better use of public funds, leading to more targeted policies and programs.

Output from this research:

International entrepreneurship: evidence on Australian born global firms (2018)

This research explores the characteristics of 'born global' firms, including the relationship between firm size, age, export status and growth. The results from the research can assist relevant policy areas to better target policies aimed at export promotion and entrepreneurship, potentially providing exposure for Australian firms to larger markets, innovation, technology and competition.

Patterns and determinants of innovation by novelty (2018)

This project aims to improve our understanding of the drivers of business innovation by novelty (novelty = new to world, new to Australia, new to market, new to industry and new to firm) by examining the determinants of each type of innovation. The analysis will identify and assess recent innovation dynamics in Australia that can inform policy makers in adapting and refining policies designed to encourage innovation in the Australian economy.

The balance sheet health and debt servicing ability of Australian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) – Insights from administrative data (2018)

This paper uses BLADE data to assess the financial performance, balance sheet health and survivability of employing SMEs over the period 2001-02 to 2015-16. There is evidence that small firms (those with 1 to 19 employees) and persistently loss-making SMEs suffered disproportionately during the last serious period of economic turmoil (the Global Financial Crisis years of 2008-9 to 2010-11). As such they remain the most vulnerable to any future shocks, and are a potential target for future government support.

The impact of the Research & Development Tax Incentive (R&DTI) on the composition and success of research (2018)

This research assesses whether the R&D Tax incentive program is leading to an increase in expenditure on R&D, and also whether it affects the composition of R&D conducted by Australian firms. The findings from this work can help to improve targeting and efficacy of government support for businesses.

Trends in Market Concentration of Australian Industries (2018)

This project looks at changes in the concentration of Australian industries and makes comparisons with other countries. The research aims to identify and characterise the types of industries where market concentration is increasing.

Output from this research:

OECD MicroBERD (Business R&D structure and dynamics, and the impact of public support for business R&D) (2018)

This project uses the BLADE Business Expenditure on Research and Development (BERD) data set to generate statistics and estimates that will feed into the OECD’s MicroBERD project. It will provide an understanding of where Australia is performing strongly and where it needs to improve in the areas of R&D and innovation. International comparisons will also inform about the efficacy of the program on an international stage, and offer lessons on how other advanced economies have improved the efficacy of their tax programs.

Program Analytics Tool (PAT) (2018)

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science's Program Analytics Tool (PAT) allows policy makers and other users to understand the patterns of departmental assistance and the characteristics of assisted firms. This work is designed to enable refinement of current departmental programs, the design and delivery of future programs as well as increasing these programs' accessibility and transparency.

Output from this project:

Strategic management in Australian firms (2018)

To improve understanding of management capability in Australia and facilitate self-assessment within firms, this project develops a simple classification for strategic management using a cross section of the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Management and Organisational Capabilities Module. This measure of strategic management correlates strongly with broader management practices and with a separately constructed, data-driven summary measure of management practices created using multiple correspondence analysis. The strategic management classification is positively associated with: rates of innovation; search for collaborative opportunities; responsiveness to skill and supply chain issues, and labour productivity at the firm level.

Output from this project:

What drives high growth? Characteristics of Australian Firms (2018)

Understanding high-growth firms is important as these types of firms have contributed most of the sales and value-add in the Australian economy over the past decade. This project estimates the impact of innovation and other business characteristics on turnover growth, focussing on the roles of innovation and research and development in driving turnover. Using unique unit record data and advanced panel data techniques, the patterns, characteristics and determinants of high-growth firms in Australia are examined.

Output from this project:

R&D spill-over effects by field of research in Australia (2019)

In collaboration with Swinburne University researchers, using state-of-the-art econometric techniques and firm level data, this research project will produce aggregate and detailed estimates of R&D spillovers by field of research in Australia.

Taxonomy of digital intensity (2019)

This project will primarily create scores to understand digital intensity in Australia. The paper also aims to provide evidence on the relationship between use of digital technologies and firm performance to help inform policies aimed at building digital capability and diffusion of digital technologies.

Expanding and improving the Program Analytics Tool (PAT) (2019)

This project will build on and improve the PAT prototype, with a view to informing the Productivity Commission’s Trade and Assistance Review publication as well as provide future program data integration guidance to other State and Commonwealth agencies.

Determinants of innovation by type (2019)

This project aims to understand the key drivers of innovation according to type, e.g.; new goods or services and processes.

R&D's impact on innovation output (2019)

This project will estimate the influence of R&D on the propensity of firms to introduce innovation, and whether this has changed over time.

Outsourcing Practices and the New Face of SMEs (2019)

The study will investigate the outsourcing practices of firms in Australia and observe how these practices have changed over time and across different groups of firms. It contemplates two growth paths for small firms; hiring internally and growth, and contract out and grow. It will look for evidence of whether small firms are opting for the latter option in higher numbers now than the earlier years. It will also test whether contracting out has any effect on the wages paid to the internal staff (puts a downward pressure?). The results will help better define small and medium size business and tailor policies to better reflect the needs of each type of firm.

Credit Constraints and Entrepreneurship Decline (2019)

In view of the sudden decline in the number of firm entries in Australia between 2005 and 2011, we will examine the link between entrepreneurship dynamics in Australia and measures of financing constraints. Especially, we test whether a deterioration in access to credit was behind the decline in entrepreneurship and the increasing risk of exit faced by them. We will apply established methods from the finance literature to infer financing constraints from firm-level data and use this as the basis of our key explanatory variable(s). Our results should demonstrate the extent to which financial constraints and access to finance was driving the observed decline in entrepreneurship. The results will also provide guidance for future policies to counter another decline in firm entry.

Characteristics and performance of foreign owned businesses in Australia (2019)

This project will inform policy by investigating the impact of foreign investment by looking at the relative performance of foreign owned businesses – a key question being considered by the Department’s Northern Australia and Major Projects division. The mining industry has the greatest proportion of businesses that are foreign owned (5.9 per cent). There is policy interest from the Department’s Resources Division into the characteristics of foreign owned mining firms (particularly critical mineral miners), given that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows may also be driven by the desire for access to natural resources. Moreover, policy areas expressed interest in an analysis of battery minerals ownership, the coal sector, the mining sector as a whole and the Mining, Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) Industry Growth Centre sector. An improved understanding of the characteristics and performance of foreign owned companies in Australia will better inform these policy teams and associated programs.

The impact of current trade wars on the business dynamics of Australian and New Zealand exporters (2019)

Changes to trade policy creates winners and losers, however there is little evidence on the distributional consequences of these changes at the firm level. This project will seek to understand how changing patterns of trade affect business dynamism, in the form of a research paper, using data from Australian and New Zealand firms.

Assessing the impact of the Industry Growth Centre (IGC) program (2019)

The project will demonstrate the value of integrated administrative data for program evaluation in the absence of natural experiments. This is an extension of a 2018-19 EDAN project. This new project will assess the impact of the program on the performance of businesses that interacted with IGC relative to a counterfactual. This analysis intends to utilize empirical matching techniques to assess the impact of IGC initiatives on firms’ performance. Findings from this project will help improve the IGC initiative and increase its likelihood of meeting its long term objectives.

Characteristics and determinants of Global Value Chains (GVCs) at the firm level (2019)

This project will look at the characteristics and determinants of GVCs at the  firm level by understanding  the determinants of GVCs, this project will contribute to policy work on lifting the number of Australian firms involved in supply chains, increasing exports and improving adoption of innovation.

The characteristics of financially weak firms and implications for government program eligibility criteria (2019)

Using BLADE data, we intend to examine financially weak firms in Australia, with a focus on their participation in DIIS programs. Broadly defined, financially weak firms are indebted firms that are consistently unable to cover their interest expenses with profits. To survive, these firms need ongoing external capital injections. Some researchers* argue that these weak firms should be allowed to fail, especially if they have bleak growth prospects, so that limited capital resources can be directed to more productive uses. Given these implications for efficiency in resource allocation, we aim to document the extent to which financially weak firms are serviced by DIIS programs and whether program eligibility criteria could be further optimised. In particular, we will attempt to uncover predictors of financial weakness, as well as situations in which financial weak firms have stronger recovery prospects. We hope these findings will assist both the design and implementation stages of policy. 

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Characteristics and outcomes for businesses and employment in regions with early NBN rollout (2018)

This project will address the possible impact early NBN roll-out had in creating or influencing businesses and employment in regions.

Pathways for workers affected by industry downturn (2018)

This project examines the different pathways workers take when they are the subject of an industry downturn, with the aim of supporting economic structural adjustment policy measures based on the factors that limit or enable successful transitions for affected workers.

Recovery or decline? Examining the socio-economic impacts of drought (2018)

Using data from MADIP and BLADE, the project examines regional recovery from the millennium drought. The project explores a number of socio-economic factors in three drought affected Eastern Australia locations.

The impact of company tax cuts on Australian businesses (2018)

This project uses BLADE to examine business performance and the impact of company tax changes, initially focusing on changes since July 2015 when the tax rate for Australian businesses with a turnover of less than $2 million was lowered from 30 per cent to 28.5 per cent. Outcomes from this project will contribute to understanding the impacts of favourable tax treatment on small businesses.

Migration’s impact on Australian society (2019)

This project will explore various impacts of international migration on Australia. It will aim to contribute to the evidence base for a broad range of policies, including migration program planning, migration labour market rules, and Commonwealth revenue management.

Data61 Fellowship Programme (host agency for this research project: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet)

Using machine learning on characteristics of small and medium sized Australian exports to design a tailored behavioural intervention (2018)

Recognising the high annual turnover rate of export market firm entry and exit, this project characterises small and medium sized Australian exporters and designs a personalised intervention to improve their business performance using causal analysis and unsupervised machine learning. It also outlines a randomised controlled trial protocol to evaluate that intervention. Ultimately, this project represents a new research approach to designing and evaluating personalised behavioural interventions for discrete populations.

Geoscience Australia

Supporting development of a natural disaster impact forecasting capability (2018)

This project will produce a stronger evidence base for decisions about disaster mitigation and recovery investments, with the aim to reduce future disaster impacts through better informed policies. It will combine data available across Commonwealth and State Government portfolios and enable a better understanding of costs to, and services provided by the Australian Government to communities and businesses beyond direct relief and recovery payments in disaster affected regions.

Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Water and Society Extension Project (2019)

The Water and Society project will explore the relationship between water conditions (flow, volume, connectivity and allocations) and regional socio-economic and human health outcomes.

IP Australia

Trademarks and exporting: evidence from Australian microdata (2019)

The purpose of this project is to investigate how trademark use impacts the export behaviour and performance of Australian businesses. It also aims to profile: (i) how the characteristics of trademark-using businesses/exporters differ from non-trademark-using businesses/exporters (in terms of the level of employment, turnover, productivity, investment, etc.); (ii) whether trademark use impacts business survival probability; and (iii) which industries and geographic locations have a higher/lower than average concentration of trademarks and what factors could explain such differences. Its findings will inform export promotion policies and programs.

IP rights and business performance (2018)

By studying the impact of IP rights on business performance, this research aims to understand the incentive structure faced by economic agents as they seek to secure IP rights. The research will investigate: (i) the performance characteristics (in terms of turnover, employment, investment, etc.) of businesses with IP rights; (ii) how the performance of businesses with IP rights change over time; and (iii) whether businesses with IP rights perform better than otherwise similar businesses without IP rights.

IP rights, business profitability and competition (2018)

This project, by examining the relationship between business mark-ups and IP activity, aims to shed light on how IP rights affect competition across industries. The project is aligned with the Government’s response to the 2016 Productivity Commission inquiry into Australia’s Intellectual Property Arrangements. It will also inform future policy responses to the Competition Policy Review (2015).

Productivity Commission

Firm-level insights into Australia’s productivity performance (2019)
This study will consider patterns of business entry and exit rates, and the contribution of small and large businesses to industry productivity growth.

Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)

Business Finance and Growth (2018)

This project explores how Australian businesses manage their balance sheets and how their financial structure affects various outcomes like investment, growth and survival. The financial structure of Australian businesses is important for understanding their resilience to financial shocks and their investment behaviour. Most existing research is based on the financial structure of publicly listed companies. But less than 1 in 1000 firms is a publicly listed company, so it is unclear how applicable these results are to the broader business population. There is also limited information on the extent to which Australian firms are financially constrained. This project provides the first direct estimates of self reported constraints based on business surveys.

Outputs from this project:

Business Productivity, Competition and Dynamism (2018)

This project is designed to assess the causes and effects of changes in business productivity in Australia. The project is divided into separate parts that explore the nature of firm-level production functions, the underlying trends in business entry and exit, profit mark-ups and rent sharing. Each of these projects is important to analysing and forecasting the business cycle, inflation and long-run potential growth.

Outputs from this project:

The Treasury

From Macro to Micro: The drivers of multi-factor productivity (MFP) growth in Australia (2019)

This project will use firm-level data from BLADE to better understand the micro-drivers of aggregate MFP growth in Australia. Productivity growth is one of the key drivers of future living standards, and this analysis can help to enhance government services by identifying structural reform opportunities.

Product and Labour Market Concentration: implications for the Australian economy (2019)

This project will use microdata to explore trends in labour and product market concentration in Australia. The analysis will help policy makers to better understand trends in labour and product market concentration, which has implications for wage and productivity growth, and will help inform policy making.

Wage growth in Australia: lessons from longitudinal microdata (2019)

This project explores the extent to which changes in micro-mechanisms – such as the wages-productivity link and job switching patterns – can explain low aggregate wage growth. It will help policy makers better understand one of the major macro-economic challenges of our time – low wage growth, which is critical due its bearing on individual wellbeing, tax revenues and potential implications for policy making.

Firming up Productivity in Australia (2018)

This project involves policy-relevant research into the micro-drivers of labour productivity growth to provide a stronger foundation to the Australian growth narrative.A body of evidence will be produced for use by Australian economic policy makers, particularly issues relating to micro-economic policy, with the aim of boosting living standards via productivity-enhancing reforms.

‘Reaching for the Stars’: Aussie firms and the global productivity frontier (2018)

This project investigates the productivity performance of Australian firms against OECD research showing a global productivity slowdown, and is part of a broader government initiative on productivity. The research will allow policy makers to better understand and support dynamic and resilient industries and firms.


New South Wales Treasury

Productivity insights: firm-level performance and characteristics (2018)

This ongoing project for the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council uses BLADE to analyse firm-level performance and characteristics to better understand productivity, growth and economic outcomes of Australian firms by cohort (eg: nationally, by state and territory, sub-state region and industry). This research will address: firm-level productivity, growth and economic contribution amongst various firm cohorts and drivers of change in productivity growth. It will look at correlation between measures, shared characteristics, the impacts of structural changes and include analysis at sub-state regional and firm levels.

New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet

Construction Industry Capacity Constraints (2018)

The purpose of this work is to better understand the consequences of major infrastructure spend, eg: whether it builds long term capacity in the construction industry, how the effects of capacity building are distributed geographically and regional impacts of major construction works. This work analyses the costs and benefits of major construction work in the context of construction costs as a whole.

Firm Level Productivity and its drivers (2018)

This project is intended to be an empirical analysis to understand the productivity and competitiveness of firms, industries and regions in NSW, as well as their drivers. In particular it focusses on the role location plays in firm level productivity. This work can help the NSW Government formulate targeted interventions to create economic conditions favourable to increasing firm productivity and competitiveness.

South Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet

Industry and Employment Dynamics in South Australia (2018)

This is a pilot project, integrating data from BLADE with South Australian Government datasets for the financial year 2015/16. It assesses the feasibility of creating an evidence base to better understand overall employment and industry performance in South Australia, and inform economic policy development. This analysis is expected to enhance well-being for South Australians through effective government programs, and evaluate the cost benefit of and potential future utility of the integrated datasets for informing public policy.


Australian National University

The role of credit constraints in the labour decisions of small and medium-sized firms (2019)

The project aims to investigate the channels through which financial shocks affect firm-level decisions about employment both on the intensive and extensive market.  The intention is that the outcomes will demonstrate the value of academic research using BLADE for producing policy-relevant research.

Swinburne University

Evaluate the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage program (2018)

The project aims to evaluate the effect of the ARC Linkage program on the performance of partnering businesses and to estimate the effect the program has on related businesses (competitors, suppliers and customers).

Building on previous project outputs:

Research & Development (R&D) ‘Spillovers’ investigation (2017)

In economic terms, ‘spillovers’ (also known as externalities) occur where the effects of an economic activity accrue to both those undertaking the activity, as well as to others. This project aims to estimate the value of R&D spillovers for Australian firms, focussing on sectoral differences, differences in firm size and the overall level of R&D spillovers occurring in the Australian economy.

Building on previous project outputs:

University of New South Wales / Australian Bureau of Statistics

Parametric and non-parametric techniques for firm level productivity analysis: Feasibility applications using BLADE (2018)

This project determines the feasibility of measuring firm level productivity using the experimental firm level capital input measures developed in the below project (Scoping/feasibility study to include capital input measures for firm level productivity). Specifically, it will test the applications of parametric and non-parametric statistical tools with the aim of coming up with experimental firm level productivity measures which can be used by BLADE users in micro-modelling and analysis.

Scoping/feasibility study to include capital input measures for firm level productivity measurement in BLADE (2018)

The project aims to come up with some experimental firm level capital stock measures that can be used by BLADE users for micro-level productivity measurement and analysis.

University of Technology Sydney

Management capability, firm performance, firm size evolution and survival (2018)

This project aims to improve understanding of the drivers of business performance in the Australian economy by investigating links between management capability and firm performance variables and characteristics, such as labour productivity, turnover growth, firm size evolution and survival. It will provide insight into the relationship between management capability and firm performance, inform the role of government in improving Australia’s management capability and demonstrates the utility of BLADE management capability data.