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International Business

print and electronic resources for international business research

Introduction to International Business Research

Researching international business entities comes with its own set of challenges including access, currency, and some seeming discrepancies.  Below are outlined eight broad steps to international business research that take advantage of both library and Internet sources.  Do not hesitate to contact the business librarian for research assistance (Regina M. Beard,

Step 1 - Get a Country Overview

Get an overview of the country.  There is a wealth of freely available information.  Start with these:
CIA World Factbook
BC News Country Profiles 

Library databases may describe these documents as  country reports, coountry profiles, or country overviews.  Searching the same database using different terms will likely result in a slightly different set of reports. An example of a database search: poland AND "country report".

Step 2 - Economic and Country Risk Reports

Get a basic understanding of your country’s economy, history, political, cultural, and social climate. 

Library databases

Step 3 - Look for How-to Information

Look for information ranging from how to establish a new business, obtain requisite licenses and permits, to business etiquette.

Doing Business -the World Bank provides access to reports that discuss doing business in specific countries as well as by topic (construction permits, getting electricity, etc.).

Lex Mundia network of independent law firms, creates and compiles guides which provide general information about legal and business climates around the world.

Step 4 - Review industry and market research

Country reports identify key industries and may include general busines information, but investgate specific industries to locate details (key companies, competitors, etc.).

  1. International Trade Associations

International Trade Administration Trade Data & Analysis  - compiled by US trade analysts:

Country Commercial Guides  – report on local market conditions, opportunities, regulations, and business customs.

World Trade Organization - provides access to a variety of reports covering global economies, statistics, and infrastructure.

Library database

Step 5 - Evaluate current data

Library resources are deemed credible sources, as is information from government and NGO sites. Information discovered through Google searches should be vetted (think Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, authority, and Purpose). Evaluate information gathered and determine, by searching, its currency. In the case of global data, consider that data gathering will vary by country and agency, so you may discover what appears to be discrepancies, but are really variances in data collection methods. Keep in mind that countries’ data reporting is not always current or timely, so the source of information may become increasingly significant.  Consideration should be given to: 

  • The source- each example is taken from an authoritative and credible site.
  • The currency—each source includes a date, indicating an effective date for the population
  • Check for a citation, especially if your information is from a secondary source
  • The discrepancies reflect difference timeframes, research cycles, and timeliness none of which should suggest to the researcher that the information is invalid. 
  • International data is available from organizations that include the United Nations, the World Bank, and the OECD, but their respective collection methods may vary.  You can also check the statistical abstract or yearbook by country as a way to verify your numbers.

Step 6 - Google Searches

Reports and data from reputable sources include international agencies, country statistical agencies, regulatory agencies, international industry agencies or consulting firms.  

International Trade Associations

International Trade Administration (ITA) - compiled by US trade analysts.

Country Commercial Guides - includes reports on local market conditions, opportunities, regulations, and business customs.

           Global industry reports are available from the ITA.

Step 7 - Statistical Information

Non-governmental organizations, including The World Bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are great sources for international economic data.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains a list of other countries’ statistical agencies.

Step 8 - Citation Management

Responsible research includes keeping track of sources used and recognizing another’s work through proper attribution.  The library has compiled a short list of resources that can help:

University Library - Citation Styles

Purdue Online Writing Lab



Liu, G. (2017). International Business Analysis Empowered with Research, Online Searcher.