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Researching a Corporation

Company Reputation

Sample Questions

(search terms will either be in bold or in brackets at the end of each question)

* Has the company been involved in any bad business deals (shows poor management)? [poor faith]

* Does the company have poor community relations in your town or in other locations? [controvers*, protest*, attack*, complain*, activist, zoning]

* Have the company or any of its subsidiaries or any company affiliated with executives or board members file for bankruptcy? [Chapter 11]

* Have there been Shareholder actions against the company and were they successful? How did the company respond?

* Has any organization called for a boycott against the company or its products? Why?

* Is the company a near monopoly within the industry?

* Has the company used aggressive business tactics that have had a bad impact on workers or the local community? [subsidy, layoff, threat*]

* Have there been any product liability lawsuits against the company?

* Do they have facilities in countries authoritarian governments (Burma, China, Indonesia?) Do they have a record of actively supporting those governments? [repressive, military, death squads]

Information Sources

10-K Reports

10-K reports of public companies have a section called "legal proceedings." If the company is facing any major lawsuits which could potentially effect its financial condition, they will be mentioned in this section. These could be shareholder suits, discrimination suits, product liability, potentially responsible parties in a Superfund site.

General Press

Search for news coverage of a company's activities via the following websites (both are searchable for free or a nominal yearly membership, but you pay a per document fee for every article you look at full text):

Northern Light
Search over 130 Million Web pages and articles of more than 5,400 full text sources. Sources include some alternative press. Service is free, but a charge from $1 - $4 for articles from "Special Collection". Also has Investext (stock market analysts reports).

DowJones News Retrieval
Available on the web for a $69 yearly fee and a document charge to view anything more than a headline. Document charges range from $2.95 for articles to over $100 for some reports. Only source for the Wall Street Journal full text.

You can gain access to Lexis-Nexis through your local university (if you have a member, staff, volunteer, or intern who is a student there) or you may consider setting up an account with Lexis-Nexis, if your organization will be doing extensive research (with negotiating you can get an account for as low as $250 per month). Databases of primary importance are News and Company.

Corporate Accountability Websites

Essential Information
Watchdog group of Ralph Nader. This site has many excellent resources on corporations, including the Multinational Monitor and various listserves on corporate accountability (including corporate welfare). Home page has a simple keyword search engine (which does not search the listserve archives). Under "Other Resources" click on "Essential.ORG ListProcessor" to get to and search various listserves. Also under "Other Resources" is the link to "Search Essential.ORG's Webspace," which allows you to selectively search sections/publications of the website.

Online magazine about transnational companies. Highlights their social, environmental and economic impact on the world. Issue or campaign focused. Searchable archives. Environmental justice and labor are main focus. Provides tips on how to research transnational companies. Includes an interactive step-by-step corporate research guide.

For additional sources, check out our Corporate Accountability guide.

General Web Searching (via search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Dogpile, etc.) When all else fails, try doing a general web search.

Profile | Reputation | Labor | Environment | Money & Politics


General Planning & Tips
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Getting Public Records

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Company Information

Corporate Responsibility
Education & Schools
Elections 2004
Government Information
Money & Politics

Plan Puebla-Panamá (PPP) - English
Plan Puebla-Panamá (PPP) - Español
Prisons & Criminal Justice
Welfare & Economic Rights
Search Engines & Databases


Using Search Engines
Research & Language
Evaluating Documents


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