Chapter 3

Quality Issues in Business Surveys

Gustav Haraldsen

Business surveys possess certain specific characteristics that differentiate them from other kinds of surveys. Hence, although the discussion in this chapter is structurally similar to any discussion of survey quality in general, we will highlight some quality issues that are unique, to, or at least more prominent in, business surveys compared with social surveys.

In any kind of production we can distinguish between process quality, which is the quality of our efforts, and product quality, which is the quality of the outcome of our efforts (Ehling and Körner 2007). One characteristic that is specific to the production of survey data compared with many other production processes, is that the product quality is the result of not one, but two, different working processes; the internal activities before, during, and after the data are collected; and the response process that takes place outside the surveyor's office during the field period (Biemer and Lyberg 2003). Moreover, even if the data quality is clearly affected by how well the survey is planned, monitored and managed by the surveyor, the quality is still decided primarily by how respondents process the questions posed to them.

The response process in business surveys differs somewhat from that in social surveys. The three most important differences are that business respondents generally do not report on behalf on themselves, but act as informants, that much of ...

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