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SURVEY ON BUSINESS STRATEGIES (ESEE)

ESEE: What is it?

The SEPI Foundation yearly carries out a panel survey of manufacturing firms located in Spain. The survey, named Encuesta sobre Estrategias Empresariales (ESEE, or Survey on Business Strategies) started in 1990 with an agreement between the Ministry of Industry and the SEPI Foundation, which is in charge of the design, control, completion and analysis of the survey. Since that time, about 1,800 firms are surveyed each year using a questionnaire with 107 questions and more than 500 specific fields, and which also includes information on the firms’ balance sheet together with their profit and loss statements. The SEPI Foundation preserves the consistency and quality of the time series and produces the corresponding Annual Report and Statistical Tables.

One feature that makes ESEE different from other statistics is its provision of information based on panel data, which has implied the systematic tracking of changes in the firms’ legal status. The ESEE covers a wide range of decisions that imply extraordinary changes in the firms’ life cycle (mergers, absorptions, splitting, adjustment plans for employees, segregation of assets, and so on) that must be controlled to ensure time comparisons

This has led to specific efforts in order to debug and validate the information provided by firms and to preserve time consistency (a note). All information contained in the ESEE is subjected to quality controls and logical consistence. Imputation techniques for blank –missing- data are never used.

What does it cover?

The ESEE’s population of reference is composed of firms with 10 or more employees within the manufacturing industry. The geographical scope of reference is the Spanish economy as a whole, and the survey uses yearly variables. One of the most relevant characteristics of the ESEE is its representativeness. The initial selection was carried out combining exhaustiveness and random sampling criteria. Those firms with more than 200 employees were included in the first category. The second category was composed by firms employing 10-to-200 workers. These firms were selected through a stratified, proportional and systematic sampling with a random seed.

In the first year (1990), 2,188 firms were interviewed using those criteria. Later, special attention has been paid to keeping representativeness with respect to the population of reference. Efforts have been made to minimize the deterioration of the initial sample due to either a reduction of the firms’ collaboration with the survey, or their dropping from the sample itself. In the first case, firms are reminded of the important social contribution of their participation in the survey; in the second, new firms are incorporated in the panel in order to avoid reductions in population coverage across industries and size-segments.

What information does it include?

The ESEE is oriented towards capturing information about firms’ strategies, that is to say, about the decisions firms take regarding their competition variables. These cover from the most flexible variables, which experience frequent short-term changes (e.g., prices), to those whose changes require longer periods (e.g., R&D expenditures). As these decisions are taken in close interaction with the firms’ environment, the survey collects much information about the environment itself (firm’s markets). The information is completed with accounting data that allow measuring the firms’ results.

SUMMARY OF CONTENTS OF THE ESEE QUESTIONNAIRE

(a) ACTIVITY, PRODUCTS AND MANUFACTURING PROCESSES: It includes some characteristics of the firms and their activities, such as industrial and non-industrial plants, legal status and significant shares in social capital, as well as basic characteristics of the manufactured products and technology.

(b) CUSTOMERS AND SUPPLIERS: It includes information regarding the nature of the firm’s customers, destination of the manufactured products, distribution channels, marketing activities and outsourcing services.

(c) COSTS AND PRICES: It provides information about the prices paid by the firm as well as its pricing policy.

(d) MARKETS: It includes information regarding the markets served by the firm, which must cover at least 50% of all its sales. These markets are identified by product lines, type of customers, geographical area or any other characteristic that the firm considers. The information refers to the market share, number of competitors and the share belonging to the most important firm in that market, price variations during the year and the reasons that justify those changes.

(e) TECHNOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES: It includes questions related to the R&D activities, patents, innovation (product, process, organizational and marketing innovations), payments and income for licenses and technical assistance, and complementary technological activities such as collaboration with customers and suppliers.

(f) FOREIGN TRADE: It includes exports and imports, distribution by geographical areas and access channels to international markets.

(g) EMPLOYMENT: It includes the number of employees working in the firm, its structure according to the type of contracts, their professional categories and qualifications, as well as other information needed to calculate the effective work-time during the year.

(h) ACCOUNTING DATA: This section includes three information categories. The first is a summary of items in the Profit and Loss Account. The second contains the value of the investments made in tangible fixed assets. The third summarizes the most significant items of the company’s Balance Sheet.

What is its contribution?

The ESEE’s worth is its provision of a rich and high-quality database which sustains a wide empirical economic research carried out by both the internal services of the Ministry of Industry and a growing number of researchers who request such data from the SEPI Foundation. The Foundation’s continued effort to complete the ESEE survey each year has led to a very important statistical base on the Spanish industry, with more than 20 million micro-data on more than 700 specific variables. The volume and quality of the economic research based on the ESEE survey is huge. It includes articles in scientific journals, Ph.D. dissertations and M.A theses, books and chapters in books, conferences and seminars worldwide.

 

 
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