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Online Resources for Business Research (August 2016): International Business Resources

Celia Ross

International Business Resources

Business research often has some kind of international component to it, whether one is looking for a foreign company, researching globalization, or trying to find international trade data or ascertain global market size.  A number of online resources include coverage of international firms and industries as well as in-depth country profiles and international economic indicators.

BMI Research from Business Monitor International covers industry sectors ranging widely from agribusiness, autos, and commercial banking to textiles and clothing, tourism, and water.  The publisher also covers political risk, finance, economic indicators, macroeconomic performance, and the business operating environment for a number of countries, for both industrialized and emerging markets.  Some subscriptions incorporate raw, exportable data on key products such as mobile operators (cell phone companies and subscriptions worldwide), infrastructure projects (major global transportation and utilities construction projects), and others, for example, related to mines, oil and gas, or health.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), part of the Economist Group that publishes The Economist magazine, offers a product called Market Explorer that covers business conditions, economic modeling and forecasting, and other investment decision data for more than two hundred countries.  Additionally, some versions provide analysis and background information on a number of global industry sectors.  Country ViewsWire, also from EIU, includes coverage of the political and regulatory environment as well as economic and financial indicators for more than two hundred countries, with an emphasis on those countries considered to be emerging markets.  ProQuest also offers Economist Intelligence Unit Country Reports Archive, a resource that can be a more affordable alternative for institutions not requiring current coverage.

The Euromonitor: Passport database should be briefly mentioned again because of its extensive global coverage of economic and trade topics.  Industry reports from MarketLine, described in previous sections, also have global coverage, with an option to add a Country Statistics component with macro-level socioeconomic and demographic data for over two hundred countries and forty-five political and geographic groupings.  Orbis, described above, is fairly comprehensive in its coverage of public and private companies worldwide and thus another good resource to consider for screening companies by country or region.

IHS Connect (formerly IHS Global Insight) contains market and industry analysis for over two hundred countries.  Included are country reports, sovereign and country risk ratings, and same-day analysis of the economic, political, legal, tax, operational, and security environments for a variety of industries, as well as analysis of global legislative, regulatory, and policy developments.  Regional analyses for the United States broken down to metro and county areas is also included in some subscriptions.  IHS produces a number of databases and has been steadily acquiring other data publishers, including Jane’s Information Group, publisher of IHS Jane’s 360 (CH, Aug’14, 51-6503), and R. L. Polk, covering engineering standards and the automotive, aerospace, chemical, and energy industries, among other topics.

EMIS (Emerging Markets Information System), formerly ISI Emerging Markets, delivers news, company, and financial data on emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, central and eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  EMIS also aggregates market reports from numerous vendors, including some Euromonitor, MarketLine, and BMI reports or those from the publisher Technavio, which covers such specialized topics as the tequila market in Europe, the global service-robot and anxiety-disorders markets, or the Asia-Pacific cloud-computing market.  The interface can be daunting, but recent improvements have made it somewhat more navigable.  A number of non-English-language sources provide content for its news and reports.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s OECD iLibrary, formerly SourceOECD (CH, Nov’05, 43-1332), contains reports and statistics on OECD members (generally high-income countries), covering economics, trade, government finance, and health.  Some information is available freely online, including the annual OECD Factbook (CH, Oct’05, 43-0688).  Similarly, the UN iLibrary provides access to a wealth of digital content published by the United Nations.  The International Monetary Fund’s IMF Country Page provides reports on member countries, focusing primarily on economic issues and country risk.

For historical global economic and other data, the World Bank’s World Development Indicators database is a standard.  It provides cultural, demographic, economic, market, environmental, and health data for over two hundred countries, with annual data extending back to 1960 or earlier.  The World Bank’s additional data sets (Global Financial Development Database, Africa Development Indicators, International Debt Statistics, Knowledge Economy Index, and more) are freely available through its World Bank Open Data site.  The World Bank also produces the free Doing Business site, featuring a great interface for looking into countries and their various risk factors pertaining to starting a business, enforcing contracts, and dealing with infrastructure issues.

The BRASS Business Guide: International Business from ALA’s Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), Business Reference and Services Section (BRASS), points to a wealth of resources providing country information, international company and industry information, financial and accounting data, exporting and importing, marketing, and other statistics.

The globalEDGE portal from Michigan State University is an excellent metasite connecting users to all kinds of international business and trade information and economic trends.  Export tutorials, emerging market evaluation tools, country comparison tools, online course modules, and industry insights for some twenty sectors including retail, agriculture, health care, and technology are just some of its features.

Despite some ads, NationMaster offers a fine means for making country comparisons across a huge set of categories ranging from statistics on crime, agriculture, and energy, to conflicts, disasters, or transport.  Pulling from a vast array of data sources (CIA World Factbook, US Census Bureau, OECD, World Bank, United Nations, etc.), this is an excellent discovery tool when looking for clues as to who tracks the data one needs.

Country Insights is another useful resource that pulls together international and country data from a number of sources.  Produced by Canada’s Centre for Intercultural Learning, this government site points to traditional economic data sources but also covers softer issues for each country such as communication styles, displays of emotion, dress, preferred managerial qualities, or conflict in the workplace.

For freely accessible country profiles, the CIA World Factbook is hard to beat.  Widely used in both print and online editions, it provides information on geography, communication networks, and transportation in addition to the usual economic and demographic data summaries.

For country profiles and much more, one can turn to the Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC) and link to many regional resources on education, libraries and reference, regional resources, society and culture, and sustainable development.  LANIC also sponsors a number of the digital projects linked from this site, such as the Castro Speech Database or the Latin American Government Documents Archive.

Another useful resource for country information is the International Trade Administration (ITA) website.  The ITA also produces and a number of other sites to help international business researchers and practitioners looking for trade statistics or hoping to take their business global.  The Energy Information Administration (EIA), a US Department of Energy division focused on gathering statistics by country on oil, gas, and other energy issues, produces Country Analysis Briefs.  For users looking for a searchable directory of international trade resources, the Federation of International Trade Association (FITA) produces Really Useful Links for International Trade.  Last but not least, the Fortune Global 500 from Fortune magazine—the international equivalent of the famed US company list—offers a quick pointer to top companies located all over the world.