Surveying members is a basic way in which to gather relevant and pertinent information. It is information directly gathered from those who are on the receiving end of regulation, polices, and legislation.
1.1 Deciding an approach
A number of choices need to be made in developing a survey:
- Is it targeted at all members' enterprises or does it also include member associations such as sectoral associations?
- Is it precise in terms of the information the EO is seeking and are questions forumlated so they don't lead to predetermined outcomes? The issue has to be defined along with the possible answers, as some information may already exist, but otherwise a survey may be necessary. This can be either analytic (to explore the viewpoints on an issue), or descriptive (to form an opinion about an issue).(1)
- Is it short enough to ensure sufficient responses but long enough to gather the information the EO requires?
- Are questions time-dependent, i.e. will answers fit within a testing period?
- Are objectives clearly outlined to members? For example: "This survey will greatly assist the EO in developing its policy priorities for the coming two year period"?
- What is the budget? As the population under consideration, the geographic distribution of this sample population, and the type of questionnaire used will all have an effect on costs.
The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) surveyed its SME members three times during four months (October 2008 – January 2009) to clarify and strengthen its advocacy efforts. Through surveys EK investigated the impacts of the financial crisis focusing on the demand for products and services, access to financing, and solvency among SMEs.
The results helped focus the Confederation's advocacy efforts by revealing that problems in obtaining finance had not increased dramatically during the previous few months as they had instead suspected, but that mostSMEs had just postponed their investments. However, solvency problems among SMEs were increased (due to reduced demand, rapidly leading to depleted working capital in the smallest firms). Addressing working capital and short-term financing issues then became a policy focus for the organization. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/39/10/42500916.ppt
(1) Adapted from Gill & Johnson: "Research Methods for Managers" (2002).