Below are links to a few good places to start when researching companies, to get basic information such as financial data, or to get a brief overview of what the company does. One thing anyone can do to help build company profiles is to enter this basic information into a profile, update financial information, or create a new profile with just basic financial information from one of these sites. It doesn't take much time, but it helps a lot in creating our database of companies, because more users are likely to contribute other information later. Also, our community of editors, researchers and contributors can lend a hand with finding information on corporations. Have a suggestion for more links? Please contact us.
For Basic Company Information
NGO Research Sources
- Multinational Monitor has a comprehensive list of valuable resources for digging up dirt on corporations.
- Corporate Research Project primer is a very good set of instructions for people who are new to corporate research, very detailed overview of the process and more good sources.
- The CorpWatch guide shows the basics of corporate research, in easy language and will help get you started.
- The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has a list of over 4000 companies, each one has a profile. Each profile contains relevant news stories, NGO reports and other sources. A good resource for looking up an individual company on Crocodyl that needs more source material.
- The Endgame Online Research Guide is a very comprehensive list of links to corporate research resources.
- The CorpWatch Del.icio.us page has a compilation of many more links to reporting tools, collected by the people at CorpWatch.
- The CSR Center has a compilation of papers written on corporate social responsibility from the Radboud University Nijmegen.
- Co-op America is an excellent resource for information relevant to Crocodyl, keeps tabs on consumer companies with environmental, labor, human rights records.
- EDGAR is a little more complicated to wade through, but SEC forms with essential information include the 10-K annual report (description of operations, financial data), DEF14A proxy (board of directors, shareholder resolutions), S-1 registration (detailed description, significant structure and strategy). A lot of good information on corporate activities is in here, but it takes some digging.
- FINRA is a quazi-governmental organization that oversees securities firms. It has a list of fines going back to 1995.
- The Toxics Release Inventory is the US EPA's database of mandatory reporting done by companies when toxic chemicals are released.
Electronic Research Methods
Using Google can often times be easier than searching within a particular site. Some interesting things to try:
- Google operators: A Google operator is a code that you can type into the search window to return specific results. It is like the "advanced search" field, except more direct. A few good ones to try are "Filetype" "Site" and "cache."
- First, type " filetype:PDF " This will return the most popular PDF files that Google can see on the web. Interesting.
- Next, try " filetype:PDF site:cigna.com " It will return all the PDF files listed on Cigna.com, and actually the results are interesting. Anyone need an Authorization for Disclosure of Private Health Information form? If Cigna decided to take this down the next day, but you still needed to get a copy for your investigation, you might try the next step.
- Type " cache:cigna.com " But you would have to hunt around to actually get the form. Also, try the Wayback Machine, which archives versions of web pages from years ago.
- Just for fun, see if you can make sense of this Google operator: " site:.gov -inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" "Last modified" PDF "
- Documents you turn up here might be good for our digital records page
Our contributor Keely Byrn has built a custom search engine to quickly find information on controversy that any given corporation has been involved in. It prioritizes a list of websites that focus on corporate watchdogging (like Crocodyl.org), human rights, the environment, etc. If you type in a company name, the "Controversy" link on the results page will narrow the results by a list of 10 or 15 keywords including "controversy," "lawsuit," "violation," "superfund," "abuse," etc.