Data Collection

Business Operations Survey 2021

Business Operations Survey 2021 en-US



Reference period

The survey was posted out in August 2021. We collected information for the latest financial year for which the business had data available when they completed the questionnaire.

Consistency with other periods

The Business Operations Survey is a modular survey that contains a repeating business operations module, an alternating information and communications technology (ICT) or innovation module, and a contracted module. The modular structure means the published content changes each year.

Stats NZ works with other organisations to develop the content for this survey.

Table 1 - Business Operations Survey: Module contents

YearModule AModule B Module C Module D
2005Business operationsInnovationBusiness practicesN/A
2006Business operations ICT Employment practicesN/A
2007Business operations Innovation International engagement N/A
2008Business operations ICT Business strategy and skills N/A
2009Business operations Innovation Business practices N/A
2010Business operations ICT Price and wage setting Financing
2011Business operations Innovation International engagement NA
2012Business operations ICT Impact of regulation NA
2013Business operations Innovation Business practices Skill needs and recruitment
2014Business operations ICT Skills acquisition Finance
2015Business operations Innovation International engagement NA
2016Business operations ICT Regulation Skills Acquisition
2017Business operations Innovation Business Practices Health and Safety Practices
2018Business operations ICTChanging Nature of Work Business Finance
2019Business operations Innovation International engagement N/A
2020Business operations ICT COVID-19 N/A
2021Business operations Innovation The Transition to a Low Emissions Economy N/A

In addition, each module in the survey has its own specific objectives. The modules included in the Business Operations Survey 2020 and their objectives are listed below.

Module A: Business operations

Provides a longitudinal series of information about business performance. This data helps develop 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: 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 allow policies to be developed to facilitate innovation, and understand the dynamics of innovative businesses. The innovation module runs every two years, and replaced Stats 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 business innovation

• how and why businesses collaborate with other businesses and institutions to innovate

• factors affecting the ability of businesses to innovate

• outcomes of innovation for businesses, including its effect on exports. Module C: The Transition to a Low Emissions Economy

The module provides information on the potential impacts and opportunities for businesses in responding to and adapting to climate change as New Zealand transitions to a low emissions economy.

The module collects information on:

• awareness

• impacts

• strategies and changes to practises

• business priorities

• investments

Data presentation

Find more data for Business Operations and Innovation modules on Infoshare. A machine-readable zipped csv file is available for The Transition to a Low Emissions Economy 2021. More data for The Transition to a Low Emissions Economy 2021 can also be found on Infoshare.

Sampling selection

The sample includes an oversample of Māori authorities. Responses from Māori authorities are used to help Stats NZ and other agencies learn what makes a business a Māori business. As the sample for the Business Operations Survey is a random sample survey, the information gathered from these Māori authorities is only included if the same businesses are selected through the random selection process.

Table 2 - Business Operations Survey: 2021 sampling error by size or industry

Business size or industry CategorySampling error(%)
Business size
6-19 employees0.7
20-49 employees2.5
50-99 employees 9.2 R
100+ employees 9.7
Agriculture, forestry & fishing2.2
Electricity, gas, water & waste services2.3
Wholesale trade2.5
Retail trade 3.2
Accommodation & food services 3.8
Transport, postal & warehousing 3.1
Information media & telecommunications2.8
Financial & insurance services 2.3 R
Rental, hiring & real estate services 4.2
Professional, scientific & technical services2.1
Administrative & support services2.4
Education and training 3.8
Health care & social assistance2.4
Arts & recreation services 4.5
Other services4.0
R - revised
Sample errors were updated to handle variability of responses within the sample in accordance with current best practice.

How to use the sampling error

Sampling errors can be measured. They quantify the variability that occurs by chance because a sample rather than an entire population is surveyed. For example, if the estimated number of businesses in the construction industry is 6,687 with a sampling error of 2.6 percent, this means there would be a 95 percent chance the true number of businesses in the construction industry lies between 6,513 and 6,861 businesses.

The sampling error detailed in table 2 represents the variability for estimates published at ANZSIC06 level 1 or business size. We can provide sampling error for the ANZSIC06 level 2 on request.

Response Rate

The Business Operations Survey is a sample survey. For the 2021 survey, we selected a sample of 9,390 from a total population of 47,448 businesses. The response rate reached 79%, lower than the target response rate of 80%.


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