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Business Operations Survey: 2014
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  20 March 2015
Data quality

Period-specific information
This section contains information that has changed since the last release. 

General information
This section contains information that does not change between releases.

Period-specific information

Reference period

The survey was posted out in August 2014. We collected information for the last financial year for which the business had data available at that point.

Response rate

We aimed for an 80 percent response rate. We achieved an actual response rate of 80 percent, which represented 5,971 businesses from a population of 37,944 enterprises.  

Interpreting the data

Sampling errors

Table 1 presents the sample errors for the different size and industry groups in the survey.

Table 1

Business Operations Survey: 2014 sample errors by size and industry 
Business size or industry category Sampling error (percentage)
Business size
6–19 employees 0.6
20–49 employees 2.2
50–99 employees 8.3
100+ employees 8.4
Agriculture, forestry, & fishing 2.3
Agriculture 3.5
Commercial fishing 4.1
Forestry and logging 4.9
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing support services 3.8
Mining 3.0
Manufacturing   1.5
     Food, beverage, & tobacco  3.5
     Textile, clothing, footwear, & leather 4.4
     Wood & paper product  4.7
     Printing, publishing, & recorded media 4.6
     Petroleum, coal, chemical, & associated product 4.2
     Non-metallic mineral product 4.9
     Metal product 4.9
     Transport & industrial machinery & equipment 4.2
     Other machinery & equipment 4.0
     Other manufacturing 5.6
Electricity, gas, water, & waste services 3.4
Construction 3.3
Wholesale trade 2.6
     Machinery & equipment wholesaling  4.0
     Other wholesale trade  3.3
Retail trade 3.5
Accommodation & food services 4.0
Transport, postal, & warehousing  3.3
Information media & telecommunications 3.0
     Publishing 5.7
     Motion picture 5.5
     Telecommunications 3.6
Financial & insurance services 2.4
     Finance 2.0
     Insurance  2.4
     Auxiliary 4.6
Rental, hiring, & real estate services 4.9
Professional, scientific, & technical services 2.3
     Computer systems design  3.4
     Other professional scientific 3.0
Administrative & support services  2.7
Education & training  3.7
Health care & social assistance  2.6
Arts & recreation services 4.4
Other services 5.0
Overall 0.8

The sampling errors provided in table 1 are measured at the 95 percent confidence level.

How to use the sampling errors

For all estimates at the national level, we would expect our sample estimate to differ from the true population value by an average of plus or minus 0.8 percent.

For example, if the estimated number of businesses in New Zealand reporting an activity is 20,596. This estimate is subject to a sampling error of approximately plus or minus 0.8 percent. This means that 95 percent of the possible sample of the same size will produce an estimate between 20,596 - 0.8 percent, and 20,596 + 0.8 percent – that is, between 20,431 and 20,761.

As another example, if the estimated number of businesses in the construction industry reporting an activity is 15,358. This estimate is subject to a sampling error of approximately plus or minus 3.3 percent. This means that 95 percent of the possible sample of the same size will produce an estimate between 15,358 - 3.3 percent, and 15,358 + 3.3 percent – that is, between 14,851 and 15,865.

The sampling errors detailed in table 1 show the sample errors for the count estimates published in NZ.Stat. We can provide sample errors for percentages presented in the summary tables (eg percentage results) on request. We can also provide sample errors for specific results if requested.

See sampling errors, under 'General information', for more information.

Consistency with other periods

The modular structure of the Business Operations Survey means its content changes each year as results are released. Statistics NZ works with other organisations to develop the mix of content for this survey. 

Table 2

 Business Operations Survey module structure
  Module content 
 Module A   Module B  Module C   Module D
 2005  Business operations Innovation  Business practices   N/A
 2006  Business operations ICT  Employment practices   N/A
 2007  Business operations  Innovation  International engagement   N/A 
 2008  Business operations ICT   Business strategy and skills  N/A
 2009  Business operations  Innovation  Business practices   N/A 
 2010  Business operations ICT   Price and wage setting  Financing 
 2011  Business operations  Innovation  International engagement  N/A
 2012  Business operations   ICT Impact of regulation  N/A


 Business operations  Innovation  Business practices  Skill needs and recruitment 
 2014  Business operations   ICT Skills acquisition   Finance
Note: ICT – information and communication technology; N/A – not applicable.

In addition, each module in the survey has its own specific objectives. The modules included in the Business Operations Survey 2014 and their objectives are listed below.

Module A: Business operations

Provides a longitudinal series of information about business performance. This will help development of models that investigate 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 information is to analyse relationships between the environment in which a business operates and the results it achieves.

Module B: Information and communications technology (ICT)

Module B alternates between innovation, in odd years, and information and communication technology (ICT), in even years. The purpose of this module is to provide comprehensive, official statistics on:  

  • computers, ICT services, and security
  • impact of ICT
  • Internet use and connection
  • purchases and sales of goods or services via the Internet
  • web presence
  • computer networks
  • cellphone use.
Module C: Skills acquisition

This module collects data on skills, training, and recruitment. Some of the questions included in the module have been featured in other modules, such as:

  • skill needs and recruitment (2013)
  • business practices (2013, 2009, and 2005)
  • business strategy and skills (2008)
  • employment practices (2006).

The 2014 module collected information on:

  • recruitment of staff, including barriers to recruitment
  • internal skill gaps
  • training, both internal and external 
  • barriers to training
Module D: Finance

This module covers data previously collected in the 2010 and 2009 Business Operations Surveys about recent financing arrangements. These have been included to gain a better understanding of the current financing situation of businesses. The module collected information on:

  • recent financing experiences
  • equity finance, including reasons and barriers to equity finance
  • debt finance, including reasons and barriers to debt finance.

Due to questionnaire changes between years, not all data is directly comparable. For example, when asking respondents about training, the questions have differed between a yes/no type question (in 2008 and 2006), and a scale of percentage of employees who were trained (in 2014, 2013, 2009, and 2005).

Data presentation

For the 2014 release, the data is presented differently to how it was in the past.

Previously, we presented data in Excel files, with one table per question asked in the survey. The results were usually shown as a percentage of businesses in each business size or industry category. Due to space constraints, we only presented two years’ worth of data.

In 2014, we presented data in NZ.Stat, with one table per module in the survey. The results are given as rounded counts of businesses, to provide greater transparency of the data. These tables show data available back to 2007, to allow easier time-series comparison.

Due to the change how we present results, the results in this release may differ from previously published figures. This may be because of changes in the questionnaire, revisions, and changes in methodology. The data in NZ.Stat is the most up-to-date and correct, and supersedes any previously published data.

The NZ.Stat release excludes data for 2005 and 2006, as that data was collected using the ANZSIC96 classification, whereas data collected from 2007 onwards was collected using the ANZSIC06 classification. We aim to release the 2005 and 2006 data at a later stage, using ANZSIC06 to make the data comparable to other years.

General information

Data source

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 developed an integrated, modular survey – the Business Operations Survey – to collect the required information and minimise 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.

The Business Operations Survey is a postal survey. We made initial contact with key and/or complex businesses in the survey by telephone, before the mail-out, to determine who to direct the survey to. For all other businesses, we addressed the survey form to the managing director. The survey was posted out in August and collected information for the last financial year for which the business had data available at that point.  

Population and sample selection

The target population for the Business Operations Survey 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.

List 1 – ANZSIC06 codes
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
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.

Interpreting the data

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 questions

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 variables

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.

Accuracy of the data

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 1.02. Further disaggregation below design level results in further loss of data quality.

The Business Operations Survey 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 errors

The estimates in this report are based on a sample of businesses. 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.

Sampling errors vary from estimate to estimate, and with population breakdown and population size. Exact sampling errors can be produced for each variable within the Business Operations Survey upon request if required.

Consistency with other periods or datasets

Industry 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 Business Operations Survey: 2008 for more information.

Information collected

Due to the modular nature of the survey, different data is released each year from the Businesses Operations Survey. Where possible, the current information has been compared with the most recent data from previous iterations of the surveys.

Research and Development Survey

Results on research and development from the Business Operations Survey differ slightly from those from the Research and Development Survey because of differences in sample selection, target population, and reporting periods. 

The Research and Development Survey collects information from businesses, government, and higher education (universities) to gain an accurate picture of R&D activity in New Zealand. It is targeted to businesses we know perform R&D, and collects detailed information on their R&D expenditure, as well as staff, funding, type, benefits and purpose of research. Due to the expanded definition in the R&D survey of what R&D includes, and the targeted population, the expenditure in the R&D survey is higher than in the Business Operations Survey. The results from the R&D survey are considered the official measure of R&D expenditure.

The Business Operations Survey is a sample of businesses in New Zealand, regardless of if they perform R&D or not. Therefore, some R&D activity is not collected by BOS. However, the BOS survey does go to a wider selection of businesses, in industries not known to perform R&D. Therefore, BOS provides a more detailed picture of the spread of business R&D across the economy. It also provides information on related activities such as innovation, to help understand what may influence a business and their R&D activity. It is the supporting information from BOS on other activities that helps complement the R&D survey.

More information

Statistics in this release have been produced in accordance with the Official Statistics System principles and protocols for producers of Tier 1 statistics for quality. They conform to the Statistics NZ Methodological Standard for Reporting of Data Quality.


While all care and diligence has been used in processing, analysing, and extracting data and information in this publication, Statistics NZ gives no warranty it is error-free and will not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by the use directly, or indirectly, of the information in this publication.


Our information releases are delivered electronically by third parties. Delivery may be delayed by circumstances outside our control. Statistics NZ does not accept responsibility for any such delay.

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