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MBA Business Research: Business and Industry Research

The MBA Business Research was constructed to help students in MBA classes with basic business research methods - topics covered include: company data, country research, and marketing information resources.

Business and Company Research - Getting started

In this first section we will locate a company of interest, isolate its industry code (NAICS) and then see if we can locate other companies within that industry. We will be looking for any type of company. So the company that you research could be public, private, subsidiary, wholly owned subsidiary or simply a one owner business. 

We are going to use ReferenceUSA to do this searching. The company that produces ReferenceUSA is a publicly traded company that provides predefined lists of companies or industry groups. Their database originated from the listings that were found in the white pages and yellow pages of phone books. Phone calls to the company listed verified the information. Companies also use their data to determine the credit worthiness of corporations and businesses. 

Let's start with ReferenceUSA. This resource is a list of the businesses located in the United States. The company collects data on each business and you can research those companies. I can find large companies (Coca Cola) along with all of the subsidiaries and factories associated with that company. So for McDonald's I could search and then list all of the McDonald's in the US (and there are a lot!). You can also view ownership or you can look locally and, for example, see all of grocery stores in a town, zip code, county, metropolitan area or state. 

So I searched Caterpillar, the construction equipment company. Here is a clip of that search. 

Search for the name Caterpillar

Notice that only one of these listings shows that the business has more "company structure". In this case the "up" arrow tells the researcher to click to see further information about the structure of the company. You can also click on the corporate tree to the same end. Here is the result when I used the "up" arrow key. 


I now have the company that I want to research. The down arrow key lets me know that there are listings for subsidiaries or manufacturing plants that I can view, but we are viewing the parent company. A click of the company name takes us into the record for that business. The record contains information about the company - address - names of the members of the company executive staff - locations and basic financial information plus much more. A bonus of using this source is seeing the InDeed Job listings as they pertain to this company. I can see if there are any open positions with Caterpillar. 

For now, we want to concentrate on one important piece of data; the NAICS codes - here are ones that I found.

Please notice that the primary industry code for Caterpillar is 333120. This is the industry in which their business is focused - Construction Machinery Manufacturing.

With this code in mind, I can search for other companies with the same code. So if I searched 333120, I could ask the database to list all of the companies which also have the same primary code and would find all of the companies in the USA that focus on 33120 - Construction Machinery Manufacturing. 

Now that we know a code we can now look for other companies in this same code. Click on search and then click on advanced search, chose the link for primary NAICS search and input your code. The one that is assigned to Caterpillar is 333120. Just click on the code. 

So this search is almost complete. Note that the researcher can click on UpDate Count. The Update Count lets me know how many other companies I have found. With almost any code search there will be a large number returned. In the following image of this search, we limited the search by using the tools found on the left-hand side of the screen. Two choices which are very helpful are to limit your search to headquarters and if needed by the size of company using either Sales or Employee Size as a limiter. For construction equipment firms, limiting to headquarters works well since there are not as many of those companies in the US. If I was searching clothing companies, I might need to add other limiters to create a good list, since there are more clothing companies in the US than equipment construction firms. A click on View Results allows me to look at the ist of construction firms. The list can be downloaded for saving, job searching or further analysis.