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Business Operations Survey: 2010
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  08 April 2011
Technical notes

Survey background

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

Because of the large range of data needed, Statistics NZ 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 was designed to include a range of ‘modules’ and has been run annually by Statistics NZ since 2005.

Statistics NZ works with a range of other organisations to develop the mix of content for this survey. The following table shows how these groups contributed to the development of the survey.

Organisations' contributions to the Business Operations Survey

2005  2006  2007  2008  2009 2010
Module A Business operations  Business operations Business operations Business operations Business operations Business operations
Module B Innovation Information and communications technology Innovation Information and communications technology Innovation Information and communications technology 
Module C Business practices Employment practices International engagement Business strategy & skills  Business practices   Price and wage setting
Module D N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Financing
Organisation Contribution to content 
Treasury Y Y Y Y N  N
Commerce Commission N N Y N  N
Victoria University N N N N N Y

Note: Y – Yes; N – No; N/A – Not applicable; MED – Ministry of Economic Development; MoRST – Ministry of Research, Science & Technology: DOL – Department of Labour; NZTE – New Zealand Trade & Enterprise; RBNZ – Reserve Bank of New Zealand

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 2010 and their objectives are listed below.

Module A: Business operations

This module aims to provide a longitudinal series of information relating to business performance. 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 business 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)

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

Module C: Price and wage setting

This module covers data previously uncollected about the businesses' strategies for price and wage setting. It covers topics such as:

  • price reviews
  • price changes
  • exporting
  • wage and salary bargaining
  • unions.

Module D: Financing

This module covers data previously collected in the 2009 Businesses Operations Survey about recent financing arrangements. These have been included to gain a better understanding of the current financing situation of businesses.

Classification change

From 2008, the design of the survey was updated to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 (ANZSIC06). See the technical notes of the Business Operations Survey: 2008 for information about this change. 

Reference period

The survey was posted out in August 2010 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 2010 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 ANZSIC06 codes as ‘in scope’ in list 1 below 
  • were private enterprises as defined by New Zealand Institutional Sector 1996 Classification (NZISC96) as 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 2010 Business Operations survey was 35,307 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.

The survey has been designed to produce aggregate statistics at a national level. This design does not facilitate statistics to be produced at a regional level.

Measurement errors

The Business Operations Survey 2010 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.

Sample errors for total population of Business Operations Survey 2010

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 2010 is 15 percent. This estimate is subject to a relative sampling error of approximately plus or minus 1.5. This means that 95 percent of the possible samples of the same size will produce an estimate between: 15 - 1.5 and 15 + 1.5, that is, between 13.5 and 16.55.

Sampling errors vary from estimate to estimate, and with population breakdown and population size. The table above 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.

Treatment of sub-industries

The sub-industries presented in this release (indented industries in the tables) should be treated with caution since they have higher sample errors than those mentioned in Table 1.04. This is because disaggregation of sub-industries results in some loss of data quality.

Response rate

The Business Operations Survey 2010 targeted an 80 percent response rate. The survey achieved an actual response rate of 81.8 percent, which represented 5,369 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.


ANZSIC06: 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 at August 2010, as entered on the questionnaire.

More information

For more information, follow the link from ‘Technical notes’ of this release on the Statistics NZ website. For detailed tables see the Business Operations Survey: 2010 – Detailed tables on the Statistics NZ website,

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