Hands-On Corporate Research Guide
If you are looking for information on corporations for an activist campaign, investigative article, lawsuit, socially conscious investment, or a school paper, this interactive guide will take you step by step through researching corporations on the Internet.
Step 1: Visit the Company's Website
You can look it up in a search engine like Google. Browse investor relations information, company annual reports, press releases, products and business locations. If you wish, request an annual report from the company or from a third party service like PRARS: The Public Register's Annual Report Service.
Step 2: Look for Corporate Information in Business and Financial Resources
U.S. Public Companies
Look up the company with an investor guide like Market Guide, Hoover's Online or Insider Scores. Check out the corporate overview, executive information, stock performance and business news.
Browse the corporation's filings in the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission's EDGAR Database.
Check Form 10-K, for a comprehensive annual business and financial overview; Form 10-Q, for quarterly financial statements; Form 8-K, for reports on "material events or corporate changes," and Proxy Statements (Schedule 14A), which include executive compensation data.
Non-U.S. or Private Companies
These companies are not required to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Finding information can be a bit tricky. Look for information in the business press and/or try:
Asiaweek's 1000 Biggest Companies
Forbes 500 Top Private Companies
Inc. Magazine's Annual List of America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies
Step 3: Find out about the company's record on environmental, labor and other social issues.
U.S. Government Resources
Environmental Protection Agency's Envirofacts Data Warehouse (EPA)
Watchdog and Activist Resources
Use our site search engine to locate information about a company. Also visit our Hot Links by Issue which lists many activist campaigns. See if the company you are investigating is a target. Here are some other helpful resources:
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility: For nearly thirty years the ICCR has been a leader in researching, campaigning and spearheading shareholder resolutions for denominations and other groups interested in socially responsible investing.
- Center for Defense Information: Search by corporation for information on military contracts.
Environmental Defense's Scorecard: A database of toxic chemical releases that is searchable by corporate facility.
Environmental Working Group: Search by corporation for reports and articles on harmful environmental practices.
Pesticide Action Network North America: Search for news about corporations involved in pesticide production and genetic engineering.
RTK Net: Search the Toxics Release Inventory, and other environmental, housing and sustainable development databases and articles. Based on U.S. government information.
AFL-CIO: The U.S. trade federation has information on legislation affecting workers, CEO salaries, occupational health and safety, and more.
LaborNet: Information on labor struggles and labor issues world-wide.
Sweatshopwatch: News and campaigns on both domestic and international sweatshops.
Institute for Women's Policy Research: IWPR focuses on issues of poverty and welfare, employment and earnings, work and family issues, among others.
Third World Network: Covers globalization, trade, environment, human and women's rights among other issues. An international network based in Malaysia.
Focus on the Global South: Does policy research, analysis and action on globalization and other corporate-related issues. Based in Thailand.
Step 4: Search News Sources
Search for company information in business news sources like:
Other Journalist Resources
American Journalism Review offers an extensive international index of news publications and access to several news search engines. You may still need to go to a specific newspaper's Web site to search for articles. Newspapers frequently offer current articles for free, but may charge for archived articles.
Search Investigative Reports and Editors' summaries of 17,000 investigative stories or find a knowledgeable investigative journalist.
These are just a few on line publications that cover corporate accountability:
Down to Earth (India)
Where To Go For On-Line News Databases
Visit your local public library or closest university library for access to magazine and newspaper databases (some public libraries provide access to magazine and newspaper databases over the Internet to library cardholders). Sometimes libraries have access to Lexis-Nexis databases. Ask the business librarian for assistance with business information resources. They know their library inside and out!
Step 5: Search Engines
Use a search engine as your last step not as a starting point. Try a search engine like Northern Light or a web information directory like the Open Directory Project. For best results, check the search tips first. Focus your search by including descriptive words with the company name, for example: "general electric" nuclear protest
Step 6: Related Research Links
If you still have not found the information you need, check our related research links for suggestions.
This guide was organized by Anna Couey of the DataCenter/ImpactResearch.