An Enterprise Survey (ES) is a firm-level survey of a representative sample of an economy’s private sector. The surveys cover a broad range of business environment topics including access to finance, competition, corruption, crime, gender, infrastructure, and performance measures. The World Bank has collected this data from face-to-face interviews with top managers and business owners in over 130,000 companies in 135 economies. More detailed information about the Enterprise Surveys can be found on the Methodology page.
Access the Enterprise Surveys data:
The survey data are publicly available on the ES website. Users can download the raw firm-level data (for free) along with the questionnaires and accompanying survey documentation. For many countries, longitudinal/panel data are available. In addition to the raw data (available in Stata format), the website presents summary indicators by survey topic. These indicators are computed using sampling weights and also outliers have been systematically removed across countries. Users can view these indicators by economy and also by topic.
The website also contains graphing and custom query tools which allow users to create customized graphs and Excel files of indicators. The website allows users to view the indicator data by firm subgroup categories such as (a) business sector, firm size, or sub-national location (sample design stratification variables) and (b) exporting status, gender of top manager, or domestic vs. foreign ownership (ex post groupings). The custom query feature allows users to download the standard error and number of observation statistics associated with these indicators. The website’s research page provides journal articles, working papers, and research briefs which utilize the ES data.
Who is surveyed:
The Enterprise Survey is answered by business owners and top managers. Sometimes the survey respondent calls company accountants and human resource managers into the interview to answer questions in the sales and labor sections of the survey. Typically 1200-1800 interviews are conducted in larger economies, 360 interviews are conducted in medium-sized economies, and for smaller economies, 150 interviews take place.
The manufacturing and services sectors are the primary business sectors of interest. This corresponds to firms classified with ISIC codes 15-37, 45, 50-52, 55, 60-64, and 72 (ISIC Rev.3.1). Formal (registered) companies with 5 or more employees are targeted for interview. Services firms include construction, retail, wholesale, hotels, restaurants, transport, storage, communications, and IT. Firms with 100% government/state ownership are not eligible to participate in an ES. Occasionally, for a few surveyed countries, other sectors are included in the companies surveyed such as education or health-related businesses. In each country, businesses in the cities/regions of major economic activity are interviewed.
In some countries, other surveys, which depart from the usual ES methodology, are conducted. Examples include (a) Informal Surveys- surveys of informal (unregistered) enterprises, (b) Micro Surveys- surveys fielded to registered firms with less than five employees, and (c) Financial Crisis Assessment Surveys- short surveys administered by telephone to assess the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008-09.
Structure of the surveys:
The Enterprise Surveys use two instruments: the Manufacturing Questionnaire and the Services Questionnaire. Although many questions overlap, some are only applicable to one type of business. For example, retail firms are not asked about production and nonproduction workers.
The standard ES topics include firm characteristics, gender participation, access to finance, annual sales, costs of inputs/labor, workforce composition, bribery, licensing, infrastructure, trade, crime, competition, capacity utilization, land and permits, taxation, informality, business-government relations, innovation and technology, and performance measures.
Over 90% of the questions objectively ascertain characteristics of a country’s business environment. The remaining questions assess the survey respondents’ opinions on what are the obstacles to firm growth and performance. The mode of data collection is face-to-face interviews.