Business Operations Survey

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The Business Operations Survey is used to collect performance measures from New Zealand businesses to better understand the practices and behaviours they undertake which may have an impact on their performance. These statistics feed into policy and micro data research that helps identify the current situation of the New Zealand business environment, as well as potential areas of improvement. The survey covers all businesses in New Zealand that have 6 or more employees, and have been active for one year or more.


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 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: Innovation or Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

The content of module B alternates between Innovation (odd years) and ICT (even years). The objectives of each module are as follows:

ICT: This module aims to provide a core set of comprehensive, official statistics on businesses use of:

  • 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
  • cellphones.

Innovation: The objective of the innovation module is to provide information on the characteristics of innovation in New Zealand's private-sector businesses. This information will enable the development of policy that will facilitate innovation, and understand the dynamics of innovative businesses. The innovation module runs every two years, and replaced Statistics NZ's former Innovation Survey, last run in 2003. The module was designed in accordance with OECD guidelines to develop an understanding of the contribution of all aspects of innovation to the New Zealand economy by measuring:

  • levels of firm innovation
  • how and why firms collaborate with other firms and institutions in order to innovate
  • factors affecting the ability of firms to innovate
  • outcomes of innovation for firms, including its effect on exports.

Module C and D: Contestable module

The contestable module content changes year on year. Modules that have been run in the past are:

2005: Business practices

2006: Employment practices

2007: International engagement

2008: Business strategy and skills

2009: Business practices

2010: Price and wage setting; Financing

2011: International engagement

2012: Regulation

2013: Business practices; Skill needs and recruitment

2014: Skills acquisition; Business finance

2015: International engagement

2016: Regulation; Skill acquisition

2017: Business Practices; Health and Safety

2018: Changing nature of work; Business finance

2019: International engagement

2020: COVID-19

The specific objectives can be found in the study of each year.

Citation Information


Business Operations Survey

Alternate Title

Omnibus; BOS


Business Infrastructure and Performance, Statistics New Zealand


Statistics New Zealand


Statistics New Zealand

Coverage Information

Topical Coverage

  • Labour
  • Macroeconomic statistics
  • Economic accounts
  • Business statistics
  • Agriculture, forestry, fisheries
  • Energy
  • Mining, manufacturing, construction
  • Transport
  • Tourism
  • Banking, insurance, financial statistics
  • Science and technology
  • Business and agricultural surveys
  • Other administrative and non-survey sources
  • Operations
  • ICT
  • Regulation
  • Investment
  • Tourism
  • Exports
  • R&D
  • Employment
  • Performance
  • technology
  • competition
  • infrastructure
  • shareholding
  • finance
  • computers
  • security
  • Internet
  • Connection
  • activities
  • Purchases
  • Sales
  • Websites
  • Networks
  • Cellphones
  • Innovation type
  • Development of innovations
  • Activities to support innovation
  • Product development expenditure
  • Abandoned activities
  • Not yet completed activities
  • Reasons for innovation
  • Source of ideas
  • Co-operative arrangements
  • Interllectual property
  • Barriers
  • product standards
  • audits, inspections, monitoring
  • Resource Management Act
  • Consents or approvals
  • Project cancellation
  • National environment standards
  • Hazardous Substances and New Organisisms Act
  • Emissions Trading Scheme
  • Compliane costs
  • Current overseas income
  • source of overseas income
  • withdrawl from overseas income
  • reasons
  • future expansion
  • strategies
  • barriers
  • previous overseas income
  • Overseas production
  • purchases from overseas
  • price review
  • price change
  • exporting
  • wage and salary bargaining
  • unions
  • recent financing
  • Debt finance
  • goals
  • planning
  • suppliers
  • benchmarking
  • information
  • employee practices
  • market focus
  • staff breakdown
  • vacanies
  • skill gaps
  • skills
  • training
  • renumeration
  • Fleible working arrangements
  • constraints
  • employment relations disputes




4 Annual

Usage and limitations of the data

Research use of the unit record data is high.

Analysis both by Stats NZ staff and also by researchers using the Data Laboratory takes place on an annual basis. Data has also been incorporated into the LBD (Longitudinal Business Database). In addition, sponsors of the survey receive anonymised and confidentialised unit record datasets each year which are held off-site (as per the annual MOUs) and they use these for various programmes of micro-research.

The survey gets many customised data requests which use the final datasets- usually around 4 a year.

Internally, one variable from the data set is used to help identify the population for the Research and Development (R&D) survey, as Business Operations Survey asks businesses if they perform Research and Development. The Research and development survey runs every two years, but uses all years of the Research and Development indicator from the Business Operations Survey.

Designed to produce results at an overall New Zealand level, and at 2 digit ANZSIC (industry) level. Results can be produced at levels other than this, but the quality is significantly lower, so it is not recommended.

Main users of the data

Central Government, stakeholders of Module C, i.e. a wide range of users due in part to the variety provided by Module C. The Business Operations Survey contributes to a range of wider OECD and international statistics by providing New Zealand data on innovation and business use of ICT measures for inclusion in international scorecards.

Significant events impacting this study series

Questionnaire changes from previous years in Module A and Module B. Changes have been mapped for easy use.

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