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Business Operations Survey: 2008
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  23 April 2009
Technical notes

Survey background

In order for New Zealand’s economic performance to be measured against initiatives aimed at increasing economic growth, a range of data on a variety of measures needs to be collected.

Because of the large range of data needed, Statistics New Zealand has developed an integrated, modular survey – the Business Operations Survey – as a way of collecting the required information while minimising the reporting load for New Zealand businesses. The survey has been designed to include up to three ‘modules’ and has been run annually by Statistics New Zealand since 2005.

The survey has been developed by Statistics New Zealand in conjunction with the Ministry of Economic Development (MED), The Department of Labour (DOL), The Ministry of Research, Science & Technology (MORST) and Treasury.

The main objective of the survey is to collect information on the operations of New Zealand businesses in order to quantify business behaviour, capacity and performance. In addition, each module in the survey has its own specific objectives. The modules included in the Business Operations Survey 2008 and their objectives are listed below.

Module A: Business operations module

The objective of this module is to provide a longitudinal series of information relating to business performance. The information required can be grouped into two main categories:

  • financial performance measures
  • business environment measures.

The purpose of collecting financial measures of business performance is to measure and monitor business performance, and to relate the impact of potential enablers on this performance. An important element of these financial measures is their longitudinal dimension, which will enable changes over time to be analysed. This will assist in the development of models aimed at investigating causal relationships. As well as traditional measures of performance such as turnover and profitability, there is also a need to collect information on such areas as export intensity. The purpose of collecting environmental information is to analyse any relationships between the environment in which a business operates and the results it achieves.

Module B: Information and Communications Technology (ICT) module

The objective of this module is to provide a core set of comprehensive, official statistics on the present state of business ICT utilisation, constraints that businesses face when implementing ICT, and areas where improvements and efficiency gains can be made.

Module C: Business strategy and skills

This module covers data previously uncollected about the strategies of businesses towards their current situation. This module has topics that measure:

  • market focus
  • current business strategy
  • staff breakdown
  • vacancies
  • internal skill gaps
  • training
  • future business strategy.

Classification change

This is the first publication of Business Operations Survey Statistics using the 2006 version of the Australia New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06). ANZSIC 06 has been jointly developed with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to ensure that the ANZSIC classification remained current and relevant. It reflects the changes that have occurred in the structure and composition of industry since the previous 1996 edition and recognises changing user requirements for data classified to industry. International comparability has been enhanced by aligning the classification, as far as possible, with the upcoming revision of the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) (Revision 4). See Introducing ANZSIC 2006 for more detail including links to the structure and detail of the classification.

All Business Operations Survey releases prior to this release were presented in accordance with the 1996 ANZSIC classification, which was the basis of the sample design in 2005 and 2006. The 2007 survey was run as a dual sample to enable results to be collected and produced in accordance with both 1996 and 2006 version of the classification. The 2008 survey moved wholly to the ANZSIC 06 based sample used in 2007. This release presents results from questions that were in both 2007 and 2008 surveys on an ANZSIC 2006 basis to allow the trends in results to be shown over this period.

The implementation of ANZSIC 06 has resulted in some changes to the industry classification of businesses. This has caused some to move out of scope of the survey and others to come into scope, resulting in changes to the overall target population. The following table shows data from the 2007 survey on both the ANZSIC 96 and ANZSIC 06 basis to indicate the effect on survey results due to these population changes.

Table 1.01 Estimates from 2007 data showing impact of ANZSIC changes

   Population Numbers  Investment in expansion
(percentage of all
 Business size        
 6–19 employees 25,608  26,316  19  18 
 20–49 employees 6,216  6,342  25  26 
 50–99 employees 1,719  1,758  31  31 
 100+ employees 1,458  1,467  41  39 
 Overall 35,004  35,883  21  21 

For businesses remaining within the population, the 1996 and 2006 versions of ANZSIC are two different classifications. Whilst the two versions share many similarities (including the same names given to industries in both classifications), industry estimates produced on an ANZSIC 06 basis can not be directly compared with those produced on the ANZSIC 96 basis.

Reference period

The survey was posted out in August 2008 and collected information for the last financial year for which the business had data available at that point.

Target population

The target population for the Business Operations Survey 2008 was live enterprise units on Statistics NZ’s Business Frame that at the population selection date:

  • were economically significant enterprises (those that have an annual GST turnover figure of greater than $30,000)
  • had six or more employees
  • had been operating for one year or more
  • were classified to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification – New Zealand Version 2006 (ANZSIC06) codes listed as ‘in scope’ in List 1 below
  • were private enterprises as defined by New Zealand Institutional Sector 1996 Classification (NZISC96) listed in List 2 below.

An enterprise is defined as a business or service entity operating in New Zealand, such as a company, partnership, trust, government department or agency, state-owned enterprise, university or self-employed individual.

The final estimated population size for the 2008 Business Operations survey was 36,075 enterprises.

List 1 – ANZSIC06 Codes in scope

In scope

ANZSIC06 code – description
A – Agriculture, forestry and fishing
B – Mining
C – Manufacturing
D – Electricity, gas, water and waste services
E – Construction
F – Wholesale trade
G – Retail trade
H – Accommodation and food services
I – Transport, postal and warehousing
J – Information media and telecommunications
K – Financial and insurance services
L – Rental, hiring and real estate services
M – Professional, scientific and technical services
N – Administrative and support services
P – Education and training
Q – Health care and social assistance
R91 – Sport and recreation activities
R92 – Gambling activities
S94 – Repair and maintenance.

Out of scope

O – Public administration and safety
R89 – Heritage activities
R90 – Creative and performing arts activities
S95 – Personal and other services
S96 – Private household employing staff and undifferentiated goods and service
producing activities of households for own use

List 2 – NZISC96 Codes in scope

In scope

NZISC96 code – description
1111 – Private corporate producer enterprises
1121 – Private non-corporate producer enterprises
1211 – Producer boards
1311 – Central government enterprises
2211 – Private registered banks
2221 – Private other broad money (M3) depository organisations
2291 – Private other depository organisations nec
2311 – Private other financial organisations excluding insurance and pension funds
2411 – Private insurance and pension funds.

Out of scope

1321 – Local government enterprises
21 – Central bank
2212, 2213, 2222, 2223, 2292, 2293, 2312, 2313, 2412, 2413 – Central and local government financial intermediaries
3 – General government
4 – Private non-profit organisations serving households
5 – Households
6 – Rest of world

Sample design

The sample design was a two-level stratification according to ANZSIC industry and employment size groups. This information was obtained using enterprise ANZSIC industry and employment information from Statistics NZ's Business Frame.

The first level of stratification was 36 ANZSIC groupings. Within each of the ANZSIC groups there is a further stratification by employment size group. The four employment size groups used in the sample design are:

  • 6–19 employees (small)
  • 20–29 employees (medium 1)
  • 30–49 employees (medium 2)
  • 50 or more employees (large).

The two medium groups have been amalgamated, and the large size group further broken down for this publication, as these businesses were of particular interest for some of the results.

Measurement errors

The Business Operations Survey 2008 results are subject to measurement errors, including both non-sample and sample errors. These errors should be considered when analysing the results from the survey.

Non-sample errors

Non-sample errors include mistakes by respondents when completing questionnaires, variation in the respondents’ interpretation of the questions asked, and errors made during the processing of the data. In addition, the survey applied imputation methodologies to cope with non-respondents. Statistics NZ adopts procedures to minimise these types of error, but they may still occur and are not quantifiable.

Given the nature of the data collected, there are limitations on the level of accuracy that can be expected from the survey. Businesses’ records may not be kept in the form required for the survey and some estimation by the respondent may be required.

Sampling error

The estimates in this report are based on a sample of business. Somewhat different figures might have been obtained if a complete census of the entire business population had been taken using the same questionnaire and processing methods etc. Because the estimates are based on a sample of businesses, all estimates have a sampling error associated with them. The variability of a survey estimate, due to the random nature of the sample selection process, is measured by its sampling error.

The majority of the tables in this release are percentages of the total number of New Zealand businesses within each size and industry. The absolute sampling errors for the overall New Zealand business population are presented in the following table. These errors should be used as a guide for judging the reliability of figures contained in the tables. The table should only be used on the overall estimates that are percentage of all New Zealand businesses.

Table 1.02: Sampling errors for total population of Business Operations Survey 2008

 Size of Estimate
 Sampling Error
 1  0.4
 2  0.6
 3  0.8
 5 1.0
 10 1.3
 20 1.8
 30  2.1 
 50 2.2 
 70 2.1
 80 1.8 
 90 1.3 
 95 1.0 
 97 0.8 
 98 0.6 
 99 0.4 

The sampling errors provided above are measured at the 95 percent confidence level.

How to use the sampling errors:

For example, the estimated number of businesses with export sales in 2008 is 15 percent. This estimate is subject to a relative sampling error of approximately plus or minus 1.55. This means roughly that there is a 95 percent likelihood that the true value lies between: 15 - 1.55 and 15 + 1.55, that is, between 13.45 and 16.55.

Sampling errors vary from estimate to estimate, and with population breakdown and population size. Table 1.02 shows approximate sampling errors for all New Zealand level estimates of the whole Business Operations Survey population. Similar tables of approximate sampling errors at a size and industry level can be provided upon request if required. Exact sampling errors can be produced for each variable within the Business Operations Survey upon request if required.

Response rate

The Business Operations Survey 2008 targeted an 80 percent response rate. The survey achieved an actual response rate of 81.1 percent, which represented 5,543 businesses.

Non-response and imputation

Unit non-response

Unit (or complete) non-response occurs when units in the sample do not return the questionnaire. The initial selection weight of the remaining units in the stratum was adjusted to account for the unit non-response (no item non-response imputation would occur for the units that did not return the questionnaire).

Item non-response

Item (or partial) non-response is when units return the questionnaire but some questions are not answered. No item non-response imputation was carried out for units that did not answer 60 percent or more of the questions they were required to answer (based on questionnaire routing rules). The respondents who did not meet this criterion were classified as unit non-responses and the weights were adjusted accordingly.

Imputation of numeric variables

The imputation methods used were weighted mean imputation and donor imputation.

Using the weighted mean method, a weighted mean was calculated from linked responding units for each numeric linecode within each imputation cell. Non-responding units were then imputed with the weighted mean for their imputation cell. Weighted mean imputation was used to impute totals.

Donor imputation randomly selected a donor from within each imputation cell. The non-respondent was then imputed with the value(s) from the donor. Donor imputation was used to impute components and percentages so that the distribution was maintained.

Imputation of categoric questions

For categoric imputation the method used was nearest neighbour imputation, which involved finding a donor with the most similar responses. The donor supplied responses for all categoric variables requiring imputation. If the donor unit did not respond to any of the variables requiring a response, then we chose the next best donor to supply this information. This was continued until all the variables had a response.


ANZSIC: Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification System – New Zealand Version 2006.
Business Frame: A register of all businesses operating in New Zealand.
Employees: The number of employees is defined by an enterprise's rolling mean employment (RME) count. RME is a twelve-month moving average of the monthly employment count (EC) figure. The EC is obtained from taxation data.
Enterprise: A business or service entity operating in New Zealand. It can be a company, partnership, trust, estate, incorporated society, producer board, local or central government organisation, voluntary organisation or self-employed individual.
Goods and Services Tax (GST): Respondents are asked to exclude GST if possible in the financial figures provided in the questionnaire. If they did not, Statistics NZ takes out GST to make all enterprises comparable.

Last financial year: For the purposes of this survey, this refers to the last financial year for which the business had results available as at August 2008, as entered on the questionnaire.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT): this refers to the last financial year for the collection, processing or transmitting of information which can be in the form of voice, images or data. Examples include computers, software, the Internet, telecommunications, networks and new development such as video conferencing and GPS (global positioning system).

More information

For more information, follow the link from the Technical notes of this release on the Statistics NZ website.


Information obtained from Statistics NZ may be freely used, reproduced, or quoted unless otherwise specified. In all cases Statistics NZ must be acknowledged as the source.


While care has been used in processing, analysing and extracting information, Statistics NZ gives no warranty that the information supplied is free from error. Statistics NZ shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of any information, product or service.


Timed statistical releases are delivered using postal and electronic services provided by third parties. Delivery of these releases may be delayed by circumstances outside the control of Statistics NZ. Statistics NZ accepts no responsibility for any such delays.

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