Help:How to research U.S. corporations

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How to research U.S. corporations is a research guide. See the other research guides
Series: How to research U.S. corporations
Main page:
  1. Sources for basic corporate profiles
  2. Exploring a company's external relationships
  3. Analyzing a company's social responsibility record

This Guide, consisting of this main article and three more in-depth sub-articles, is designed to help researchers and activists gather essential information on any type of U.S.-based company, whether small or large, privately held or publicly traded. The resources listed here are all, in one way or another, part of the public record. The first part covers leading sources of basic information on companies of all kinds. The second part focuses on information sources relating to the key relationships every company must have in order to function. The final part shows you how to gather information about a company’s "social responsibility" record. Together, these sections will help you find all the basic information needed to support efforts to get companies to do the right thing. Happy hunting!

Getting started

The biggest challenge in most corporate research projects is not a shortage of information, but rather too much of it. The key to efficient research is figuring out how to sort through the barrage of data and zero in on what is important. An essential part of this is knowing where to begin. For a detailed list and analysis of the best starting points for getting a basic understanding of a company, including its finances, its operations, its executives and its history, see the sub-article on sources for basic corporate profiles.

Exploring a company's external relationships

Companies are like people: they need relationships to survive. These include, for example, relationships with those who buy the firm’s products, those who invest in the company and those who lend it money. When you are researching a company, it is essential to understand these relationships. When you are involved in a corporate campaign against a company, chances are that you will end up intervening in these relationships in some way, since this is often the most effective way to get a corporation’s attention and persuade it to abandon socially irresponsible policies.

Analyzing a company's social responsibility record

Companies also have relationships with their employees and with the communities in which they do business. The way they conduct these relationships is known as the company’s social responsibility record. All too many companies behave in an irresponsible manner—breaking the law, violating regulations, mistreating workers, despoiling the environment and manipulating public policy through lobbying and campaign contributions. Investigating these issues is an essential part of any thorough corporate research project.

Articles and resources

Associate Managing Editor's note: This article is based on The Corporate Research Project with the permission of Philip Mattera, the project's director.

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External resources

  • Good Jobs First: Offers a variety of information on economic development subsidies and a research guide on the subject.

External articles