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2  Data

2.1  Data source

The Business Operations Survey (BOS) is an annual survey conducted by Statistics New Zealand. The sample is approximately full coverage for large firms, with sampling rates decreasing by size (employment) category. The survey consists of three modules. Module A covers general questions on Business Operations and is conducted annually. Module B alternates between Business Use of ICT (even years) and Innovation (odd years). Module C is a contestable module, sponsored annually by one or more government departments.

In 2011 the module was sponsored by the Ministry of Economic Development and focused on International Engagement. The module was designed to capture information on the number of firms involved in various types of international activities, as well as motivations for, and barriers to, international engagement. Although the 2011 survey was nominally a repeat of an earlier International Engagement module (BOS07), in practice a substantial number of questions were altered between the two surveys creating challenges for longitudinal analysis. This paper therefore focuses on descriptive analysis of the 2011 responses, alongside limited analysis of longitudinal patterns from the other BOS years. In particular, the longitudinal analysis is focused on a small number of questions which were asked consistently across the two modules, relating to firms' future intentions regarding overseas income generation, the strategies and motivations they have in pursuing that goal, and the barriers they perceive as affecting their ability to earn overseas income.

Since this paper was prepared, results of an additional International Engagement module have become available, from the 2015 Business Operations Survey (BOS15). This module has been substantially re-worked compared to the two earlier modules, including changes in the coverage of overseas income and in the major topic areas covered by the survey. Due to these changes, and the recency of the new data release, responses from the 2015 survey have not been incorporated into the analysis presented here. However, where relevant we do refer to aggregate results published by Statistics New Zealand. Comparisons of aggregate responses across the 2007 and 2011 BOS surveys are available from Statistics New Zealand.[2] Aggregate results for the 2015 survey are available from Infoshare.[3]

The International Engagement modules of 2007 and 2011 are divided into three main sections: Overseas income generation (primarily exports of goods and services, but also earnings from assets or intellectual property), overseas production of goods and services, and purchases from overseas, where the latter two categories are distinguished by the amount of input that the New Zealand firm has in the design and development of the product or service in question. This paper looks solely at overseas income generation.

For the purposes of the survey “overseas income” is defined quite broadly. In particular, it includes the purchase of goods and services by foreign nationals who are temporarily visiting New Zealand, where these are a substantial revenue source for the firm. This definition captures important sources of overseas income such as tourism and export education, but creates additional challenges in interpreting the survey results. These challenges are discussed in the next section.

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