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 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 Industry, Innovation and Science

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.

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.

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:

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

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.

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.

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).

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 Department of Industry

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).

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.

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.