Research projects

Research activities conducted by the Growing New Zealand Businesses (GNZB) research group.

Research design

Adapting the University of Cambridge Centre for Business Research (CBR) methodology, roughly 10,000 New Zealand manufacturing and business service businesses (high tech and non-high tech), stratified by industry and size, took part in the survey in late 2010. Partner institutions, the University of Cambridge and the University of Queensland, are also carrying out the survey using a standard platform of at least 80 per cent of the questions, with some customisation for country-specific circumstances.

The University of Cambridge Centre for Business Research has over the past 19 years, developed and refined the referent survey. It is recognised as the leading survey of its kind in the UK: the Financial Times has described it as a:

“Valuable source of material for organisations which provide services to business and policy makers both in the private and public sectors.”

Many of the questions were successfully used by the Principal Investigator in a comparative UK-Japan study of entrepreneurs in high tech businesses (published as Comparative Entrepreneurship: The UK, Japan and the Shadow of Silicon Valley by Oxford University Press, 2009), where the combined survey and interview methodology was developed.

The survey directly generated a large number of variables from 40 questions. Questions are arranged under five broad topics that focus on:

  • General characteristics of the business.
  • Innovation activities.
  • Competitive situation and collaborative activities.
  • Finance.
  • Growth aspirations, family business characteristics, and succession planning.

From the survey, a sub-sample of at least 30 businesses will be selected for in-depth interviews. This group will include a range of businesses, designed to explore and contextualise issues raised by the survey. The aim of the combined methods approach is to explore in greater depth patterns suggested by the survey. Interviews will also explore how owner-managers perceive their environment, aspirations, opportunity and constraint perceptions, what growth means to them, and how they innovate and compete. Moreover, the study will allow for cross-country and within-country comparisons, for example, family businesses versus non-family businesses, permitting a better understanding of the distinctive features and challenges of NZ SMEs.

While large-scale comparative surveys are common in some disciplines, this is not the case for SME and entrepreneurship research. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Consortium has data from over 30 countries, including New Zealand, but critics argue that it uses a simplistic questionnaire, as well as a contentious view of entrepreneurship. New Zealand still lacks a survey of the stature of the University of Cambridge CBE SME survey used in the UK.

Sample framework

A sample of roughly 10,000 New Zealand manufacturing and business service businesses (high tech and non-high tech), stratified by industry and size was used for the survey. It was drawn from independent limited liability companies, sole proprietorships or partnerships, targeting 50% manufacturing and 50% business services. Size bands follow those of the Ministry of Economic Development’s “SMEs in New Zealand: Structure and Dynamics 2009” Seventy percent were from the Auckland region and thirty percent from the rest of the country.


The survey is funded initially by the ICEHOUSE-UABS Collaborative Research Fund, the University of Auckland Business School's Faculty Research Development Fund, with support from the Institute for Technology, Enterprise and Competitiveness (ITEC), Doshisha University.