Company and organization research entails investigating any entity that provides goods and/or services to meet market or societal needs. You might need to conduct company research for a competitive analysis, financial ratios, marketing plans, or any other similar types of projects that require background research. When researching a company, remember 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 (financial statements, market share, competitors, etc.) may be provided by the entity itself or estimated by third-party providers like library databases.
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 do not have the same disclosure requirements as public companies. Private companies have no incentive to make their data available; in fact, doing so could compromise their competitive position in their industry. Therefore, researchers must be creative and persistent when seeking information. In the event that private company financial data is unavailable, research should consider using either public company financial data or financial ratios to create performance estimates.
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 that will give you more information on a particular company or organization:
While you will find a lot of information on companies available through the libraries' databases, you may need to look to other resources online for additional sources. The following resources will help you with this research: