Common Questions About Corporate Research

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Common Questions
About Corporate Research

 

How do I find local corporations?

Most municipal areas have a company which publishes a business journal. Most of these business journals compile lists of corporate rankings: which are the largest public corporations in the area, the largest private corporations, the largest manufacturers, the largest law firms, the largest employers, etc.

Many of these business journals are published by American City Business Journals.

 

How do I find a corporation's local offices? How do I find local telephone numbers?


Once you have the corporation's name, the headquarters and branch offices can often be found in the telephone book. Also try DexOnline.

Addresses and phone numbers nationwide or statewide can be found in the Internet directories. Try Switchboard and Anywho.

 

How do I find out when and where a corporation's annual meeting is held?

Public corporations are required to publish an annual proxy statement announcing the date and location of their annual meeting (it's typically held in the Spring). The proxy statement is mailed to shareholders and is also filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, which calls it the Form DEF14A. You can request the proxy statement from corporate headquarters or you can download an electronic copy from the SEC EDGAR database on the internet at by typing in the corporation's name and then clicking on the latest Form DEF14A.

Information about annaul meetings and shareholder resolutions for corporations in the Northwest can be found at the web site of the Northwest Corporate Accountability Project.

 

How do I find the names and information on key individuals, such as the CEO, board members, major shareholders, and key staff?

CEO, board of directors, and managers
(including interlocks with other corporations)

U.S. SEC proxy Form DEF14A

Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors, and Executives

major shareholders

Compact Disclosure CD-ROM database at major libraries

 

Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors, and Executives includes brief biographies, sometimes including details on an individual's education, career, and place of residence.

The AFL-CIO maintains a list of corporate CEO salaries, bonuses, and stock options on its Executive Paywatch web site

 

How do I find out what other corporations a board member is associated with?

The list of people standing for election to the board is also listed in the proxy form DEF14A, and includes a short biography of ach director, and usually lists their other corporate positions. The proxy statement also includes the salaries and stock options received by major executives. The corporations' annual reports are also filed with the U.S. SEC -- the annual report is called the Form 10K and are available directly from the corporation by request or from the U.S. SEC EDGAR database.

 

How do I found out what money a corporation is spending on politicians?

One user friendly web site is the Center for Responsive Politics

For example, you can find what Boeing or Weyerhaeuser are spending on their various Congressional representatives by searching the site at http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/ and you can get a list of who pays Slade Gorton at http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/index.htm

You can also track state-level political money, for example the leading funders in Washington State by industry (computers, forestry, lawyers, and real estate) and by corporation (Microsoft, Boeing, Washington Mutual Bank, Services Group of America) at http://www.opensecrets.org/states/contribs/WA.htm

 

What subcontractors, lawyers, and public relations firms does a corporation use?

Several directories (which can be found in the business and law collections at major libraries) list corporate lobbyists and their clients:

Congressional Directory

Directory of Washington Representatives of American Associations and Industry.

National Directory of Corporate Public Affairs lists corporations' public affairs staff, PACs, foundations, publications, and registered lobbyists.

The Center for Responsive Politics web site which has a Lobbyists Database which shows which corporations are paying which lobbyists.

A citizens group which monitors the PR industry is the Center for Media and Democracy in Madison Wisconsin. They publish PR Watch.

Two directories lists the big corporations' lawyers and who they represent:

Directory of Corporate Counsel.

Martindale & Hubbell Law Directory.

 

How do I find a history of the corporation?

ABI/Inform news database. (Indexes over 800 business periodicals; available in major public and university libraries).

Business Dateline news database. (Indexes regional, local, and national newspapers ; available in major public and university libraries).

Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography.

Everybody's Business, by Moskowitz et al. (1980 and 1990 editions).

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports. (Detailed foreign news hard to get elswhere).

Hoover's gives nutshell corporate profiles and rankings. Available on the internet at
which provides links to corporate websites. Hoover's also publishes printed versions too; check your library.

International Directory of Company Histories.

Moody's Manuals. (Corporate descriptions, history, and finances).

Multinational Monitor provides news, analysis, and profiles of transnational corporations.

National Newspaper Index (available in major libraries).

Wall Street Journal. (The best newspaper for monitoring the activities of corporations. Healthy activists are immune from the editorial bias, but benefit greatly from generally accurate information about upcoming projects and insider scandals).

 

What are a corporation's subsidiaries, interlocks, and affiliations?

Directory of Corporate Affiliations is useful for tracking the subsidiaries and addresses of public and private corporations in the U.S. and around the world. Moody's Manuals also lists major subsidiaries. Sometimes subsidiaries of U.S. corporations are listed in its annual Form 10K which is filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission website.

Interlocks are generally through the board of directors, who are listed in in the SEC Form DEF14A.

Affiliations are a looser relationship, often based on joint ventures and contracts which come and go. Check the corporation's annual report for major ventures, and check the computer news databases such as ABI/Inform (includes 800 business periodicals), Business Dateline, and National Newspaper Index (regional, local, and national newspapers).

Associations Yellow Book lists 45,000 staff at 1,175 industry and trade associations, including officers, budgets, history, publications, PACs, and directors' company affiliations.

 

How do I get information on a corporation's finances and assets?

Public corporations are required to file financial information in their annual report. The glossy illustrated version published for public relations purposes is available by request from corporate headquarters. An electronic version is available from the U.S. SEC EDGAR database on the internet at by typing in the corporation's name and then clicking on the latest Form 10K.

The U.S. SEC data is also available in the Compact Disclosure CD-ROM database, which combines the SEC forms into a single corporate record. Compact Disclosure is also useful for other types of research, such as producing a list of all the public corporations in each state. Compact Disclosure is available at major public and university business libraries.

These libraries will also have printed directories. Try Dun & Bradstreet's Financial Records Plus and the Moody's Manuals (which include detailed descriptions, history, and finances).

 

What goods and services does a particular corporation produce?

The basic line of business of a corporation is listed by the SIC (Standard Industrial Code) which is included in most corporate directories (such as Standard & Poor's, Moody's, and the Directory of Corporate Affiliations) and in the SEC database and Compact Disclosure CD-ROM.

Useful directories include Brands and Their Companies and Companies and Their Brands (there are International Companies versions of both).

 

What does a corporation export (what, how much, to where)?

The Seattle Public Library (4th and University) has a good business section. There are several directories of exporters.

The country-specific operations of a U.S. corporation can be found in the Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries., in the directory titled Worldwide Branch Locations of Multinational Companies, and in the Kompass directories for various countries.

 

What is a corporations's criminal record?

Most large corporations have been convicted of felonies, not to mention misdemeanors and violatons of minor regulations. A few varieties of corporate crime include monopoly (restraints of trade like price-fixing, etc. A conspiracy by plumbing manufacturers cost consumers $100 million; an electrical industry conspiracy cost consumers $2 billion), misrepresentation in advertising, issuing fraudulent stock and bonds, illegal kickbacks and rebates, falsifying inventory values to escape taxes, falsifying income tax returns, manufacturing unsafe food and drugs, unsafe working conditions (100,000 die every year from toxins and other workplace hazards, and 5.5 million are injured, and 3.3 million are hospitalized, and 390,000 contract new cases of occupational disease), bribery and other illegal payments to regulators and government officials, unfair labor practices involving the right to organize or discriminatory employment practices, illegal political contributions, environmental pollution violations, and manufacturing unsafe products (28,000 die and 130,000 are seriously injured each year by dangerous products).

Unfortunately for the citizen, the law is extremely complex and fragmented. For example, a group fighting for environmental justice wanted to know which government agencies were supposed to be controlling the release of toxic substances by corporations in south Seattle. We came up with a list of 61 federal, state, and local agencies. The field of corporate crime is can only be systematically approached by looking at each area of the law: environmental, health & safety, labor, business crime, etc.

 

What is a corporations's record on business practices, such as monopoly and fraud?

Capitol Reports guide to federal and state courts

Corporate Crime and Violence: Big Business Power and the Abuse of the Public Trust, by Russell Mokhiber. Sierra Club Books, 1988.

Corporate Crime Reporter, 1322 18th Street NW, Washington DC 20036, 202-429-6928, Russell Mokhiber. (Weekly looseleaf).

CrimeZyland

Nolo Legal Research (instruction)

 

What is a corporation's environment record?

BNA Environment Reporter. Bureau of National Affairs. (Legal decisions. Available in major libraries).

Chemical Scorecard pap-based access to TRI and other toxics data.

Map Cruzin provides community mapping resources, environmental risk, chemical exposure, right-to-know, Y2K, and more.

Right-To-Know Net (RTK Net was an online pioneer in environmental health and safety information, offering user-friendly versions of EPA and OSHA databases.

EDF's Chemical Scorecard

Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). U.S. EPA. (The TRI shows specific levels of pollution released from most manufacturing sites in the U.S. There are CD-ROM, print, and Internet versions; the best are RTK-Net and Chemical Scorecard).

 

What is a corporation's health & safety record?

Occupational Safety & Health Reporter (BNA).

Products Liability Reporter. Commerce Clearing House.

Right-To-Know Net

U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). (OSHA violations by company name can be obtained by calling 202-219-7788. Or try http://www.osha-slc.gov/REVIEW_toc/RCD.html to review OSHA decisions by company name.

 

How do I find a corporation's labor record?

Daily Labor Report. BNA. (Digest of cases by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board).

Label Letter. AFL-CIO. (Includes list of boycotts).

Boycott Board http://boycott.2street.com/index.phtml

Envirolink Boycotts http://www.envirolink.org/environews/boycotts.news.html

LaborNet http://www.labornet.org/

International Labor Rights Fund http://www.laborrights.com/

National Labor Committee http://www.nlcnet.org/

Sweatshop Watch http://www.sweatshopwatch.org/swatch/index.html

 

What is a corporation's human rights record?

Global Witness links corporate power, the environment, and human rights http://www.oneworld/globalwitness/

Aboriginal Resources http://www.bloorstreet.com/300block/aborl.htm

Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org/

Human Rights Links (via Amnesty International web site) http://www.amnesty.org/aisect/links.htm

Country reports from Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/countries/index.html

Native Americans and the Environment http://conbio.rice.edu/nae/internet.html

Web links http://conbio.rice.edu/nae/internet.html

 

What is a corporation's involvement in the arms trade and the military?

Companies, Contractors Receiving the Largest Dollar Volume of Military Prime Contract Awards. (Annual publication from U.S. Dept. of Defense).

Military Prime Contract Awards by State, City & Contractor. (U.S. Dept. of Defense).

Military Spending Working Group http://www.fas.org/pub/gen/mswg/ (Guide to the biggest corporate welfare agency of them all: the Pentagon).

U.S. Arms Sales http://motherjones.com/arms/index.html

War Resisters League, 339 Lafayette St, New York NY 10012.