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International bus/econ data... my go-to sources!

Published by Mark Bodnar

Our list of data sources here at the SFU Library is constantly growing. Paradoxically, the sheer number of sources can actually make it harder to find the exact source you need!

I thought I'd highlight some of my favourite Business & Economics data sources in a single (long!) post. I'm doing this with a specific class in mind (BUS 430 - Cross-Cultural Management) as I know those students are currently seeking international data to test some hypotheses, but I suspect these sources will be of much wider interest.

Explore! Enjoy! And be sure to Ask if you don't find what you need!

   A special note to BUS 430 students: In addition to the data sources listed below, I've included a bonus section with a few other resources and tips that I hope will help with your assignment.

International data on companies, economies, consumers... and more!

Logo of IMD World Competitiveness Online

IMD World Competitiveness Online
Measures the competitiveness of nations by ranking and analyzing how a nation's environment creates and sustains the competitiveness of enterprises. The time series it provides include a mix of standard economic indicators and the results of a regular survey of business executives’ opinions. Sixty-four countries are measured on the basis of 330+ criteria. Any combination of criteria can be searched for the past 27 years. 

Logo of S&P Capital IQ

S&P Capital IQ
Data on publicly traded companies around the world, including company fundamentals (balance sheet & income statement data, etc.), information on top executives, strategic alliances, subsidiaries ("corporate tree"), and more. Some large private companies are also covered, although to a much lesser degree.  Also check the Markets tab within the database for global data on economic and commodity topics.

Refinitiv Eikon + Datastream
Covers publicly-traded companies around the world as well as commodity and economic topics. Particularly strong for M&A activity and for ESG data. Note that this resource is available on one computer in each of our libraries.

Logo of Data Planet

Data Planet (2024 update: now known as Sage Data)
A single interface that allows you to search across many sources and datasets (some of which are covered in this post), then create colourful charts and graphs to highlight correlations and trends. See Data Planet 101: Fun with Functionality, a recording of a recent webinar, to learn more about how to use Data Planet efficiently.  

Logo of OECD iLibrary

OECD iLibrary
Employment, environment, economic, and other data, largely about OECD member countries.

Free downloadable economic data from the US Federal Reserve, including many international time series. Start by browsing the categories or by going straight to their international data.

Logo of Passport

Passport is better known at SFU for its data and reports on markets for "fast moving consumer goods", but it also provides economic and demographic data for every country in the world, with forecasts. Start by changing the "All" option next to the search box to "Statistics" then entering your search. Alternatively, try selecting Economies on the top navigation bar, then selecting either Business Dynamics or Economy, Finance, and Trade before choosing the Explore Statistics option to dig deeper. 

World Development Indicators
Hundreds of development indicators covering economic, social, environmental, business, and technology topics for more than 200 countries. 

Logo of UNCTADStat

Incredibly detailed data on trade, investment, and development by and between nations. 

IMF Data
Fiscal/economic on most countries data via the International Monetary Fund. Start with their Data by Topic page.

Sometimes you need to take a very long view to get a sense of the trends. GFDatabase offers economic, commodity, and financial data spanning centuries in many cases. See this post for more details on GFDatabase. Also see International Historical Statistics for key economic and social indicators from 1750 to 2010 such as indices of industrial production in African countries and consumer price indices in Asian countries.

Logo of Statista

Statista is more focused on finding statistics than on data... but sometimes you can start with a statistic on a topic, then follow the clues through to a larger dataset. For instance, a Statista chart on the glass ceiling index led me to this article from The Economist. The article wasn't available for free, so I checked our library and found a PDF copy.  I then noticed that the data Statista had extracted came from a single table in the article, and that the sources listed below that table included the European Institute for Gender EqualityEurostat, the International Labour Organisation, and other super-useful resources... each of which might lead me (you!) to even deeper data on the topic.

Bonus: beyond data for BUS 430... 

Overlap with international marketing: International marketers are also interested in global economic and business data trends. Our International Market Research guide lists most of the above resources and many more that you could explore! Start with the multi-country tables section of the guide.

On international HRM: Our guide for BUS 432: International Human Resource Management will help you find ebooks and articles on international HRM topics ranging from corporate culture to strategic leadership.

News as clues: You may need to search international news sources to learn about issues and challenges affecting your target firms. Use news databases such as Nexis Uni, Canadian Newsstream, or Factiva to search across thousands of business and general news sources from around the world, including the Wall Street Journal.

  Note: Factiva offers "Expert Search" shortcuts that might save you time.  Explore the Factiva Expert Search options to find pre-designed searches on hot topics such as...

Simple line drawing of a newspaper and a coffee cup.

* Factiva Expert Search > Reputation Risk > Workplace Employment 
* Factiva Expert Search > Reputation Risk > Equal Opportunities
* Factiva Expert Search > Reputation Risk > Labor
* Factiva Expert Search > ESG/Investment Stewardship > Working Conditions

See this blog post for more on Factiva's content and its time-saving Expert Search feature, and see this short video for more on using news sources to research company strategies.

And Nexis Uni has a different sort of shortcut to offer... a handy "Company Dossier" feature that pulls information from multiple sources to create a dossier on a firm. 

Simple line drawing of a graph.

Data visualization: Finding data is just the first step! Once you've found and analyzed data, you'll need to find a way to explain your findings to others without overwhelming them. If you are planning to use Tableau to create visualizations, our Tableau guide provides instructions on how to access and learn how to use the software. More broadly, we have hundreds of recent ebooks on "information visualization" OR "data visualization."

  Update (April 2022): Our new Sage Skills: Business database includes a module on Visualizing Data. Check it out for an online, interactive learning experience, complete with videos and scenarios.

Private companies can be particularly difficult to research. Most companies are reluctant to release information on challenges they are facing, but at least publicly traded firms are forced to release details about major issues that might affect their value as an investment. With private companies you can often do little more than infer from what can be gleaned through news sources (see above) and through a few company report sources such as Mergent Intellect (via its Dun & Bradstreet records). See our Company Information guide for more company-focused sources & search strategies, and see this blog post for more on Mergent Intellect.

As always, if you don't find what you're looking for, just ask! Use our Ask a Librarian services (phone, Zoom, email, chat, and in-person options) or send me a note.

Good luck with your research!

-- Mark
Mark Bodnar
Business & Economics Librarian

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