Company and organization research entails investigating any entity, whether for-profit or non-profit, that provides goods and/or services to meet market or societal needs.
When conducting company research, researchers must appreciate that an entity's key characteristics (e.g. small vs. large, private vs. public, subsidiary vs. parent, domestic vs. foreign, and for-profit vs. non-profit) will affect the relative availability and robustness of data/information. Company information/data (financial statements, investment performance, market share, competitors, etc.) may be provided by the entity itself or estimated by third-party providers like library database vendors.
Public companies sell their shares on the stock market like the NASDAQ or NYSE. They are legally obligated to disclose financial information to their shareholders and to legislative bodies. To fulfill this obligation public companies produce reports, which are sent to the shareholders and filed with regulatory bodies like the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission detailing their financial performance and governance structure. Because of these regulatory requirements, information on many public companies is relatively easy to find.
Conversely, information on private companies is often difficult to find. This is partly because these companies do not trade on the stock exchange and therefore, do not have the same disclosure requirements as public companies.
Company and organization research is indelibly linked to other aspects of business research such as market and industry analysis. Obtaining information on the industry in which your company involves, may provide perspective and insight into the company you're researching. Industry reports include some information about companies that are major players in the market, as well as an analysis of the competitive environment.
The following databases are a good place to start to find journal articles, newspaper articles, trade publications, magazines, SWOT reports, company profiles, and other electronic resources: