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MBA Business Research: Narrative on my Company

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.

Company Narrative

In this final section we will use two resources to look for a narrative about our company. As we noted earlier, it is hard to locate unbiased information about companies. Companies carefully protect their images and work to cultivate positive stories about the company and its brand. To do this research we are going to use two resources - ABInform - a large business database. Here you can find content from magazines, journals, business newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal along with blog posts and articles from journals that detail a particular aspect of the company or its practices. The other source we want to locate are associations. Industry associations support companies with outreach, research, lobbying as well as establishing industry standards.   

ABInform and Trade publications

So to get this search started, simply click into ABInform. As illustrated, this is a simple search to do. Luckily I am researching a company with a very unique name - Caterpillar. If you are searching a company with a more common name (johnson and johnson for example), you would need to put the company name in quotes or specify the type of search that you are doing. 

This search generates a lot of hits which is not unusual when searching for a well-known company. I can change the arrangement of the citations by simply clicking on "currency" instead of "relevance" to have it re-sort the search.  

I can also limit the search by just searching for Caterpillar as a corporation. You can find those limiting features on the right-hand side of the screen. This can be a smart choice since, with this limiter, I have reduced the number of articles but the ones that I am seeing are more focused to the topic. 

There are more choices that I can make to review the content and one of those choices are to limit to a type of publication. In this case I limited to Trade Publications. Trade publications are published to support an industry and unlike the general magazines that you find in Barnes and Noble or in your Dr.'s office, trade publication focus on just an industry or an industry activity. To that end I will find trade publications on aircraft like Aviation Week, the candy industry - Candy Industry and food - Frozen Food Age. There are hundreds of these publications and most have a small number of subscribers and are expensive. So with a few changes in the search I went from 125,000 articles to just 2,000 very current articles. 


Trade publications are often published by trade organizations. Trade organizations support their industry with access to research, information, networking, lobbying and often serve as the public side of the industry. These trade organizations are not hard to find. With a simple web search you can locate many trade organizations for an industry. Keep in mind that some will be national in scope and some local. 

Here is a simple method to make this search work. 

Open a web browser and lets do a search. First I want to add the name of the industry. You looked at several of these in the last section of this research lesson but you can usually make a good guess to what they are called - Coca Cola - Soft Drink. Caterpillar - Construction Equipment. Microsoft - Software and so on. So a web search would look like this Soft drinks and associations. But then I want to designate a certain kind of webpage. I want to only see webpages that come from a .org website. The .org trailer is given to organizations. Usually, they represent a group and are not commercial in nature - they are not trying to sell me anything. They exists to support an industry group. So the completed search would look like this - Soft drinks and associations .org

So here is the complete search and we get a lot of "hits". The American Beverage Association is one of the largest. When I open an association's website I need to look for links to education, resources, research and so on. These headers indicate that I will find collected data and then I can use that data for my research or my marketing Try a couple of these searches for yourself and see if you can locate these business support groups for a company of interest. 

Finding narrative data on my company