Case Study #1: Wendy's (a publicly-traded corporation)
- In all cases, it's a good idea to get oriented to your research by looking at a guide. BPL's Business and Career Library, for example, has a nice starting point with "How Do I Research a Company?".
- It's useful to know the ticker symbol, which a quick search engine search (for keywords [(your company's name) ticker symbol]) will turn up.
- SEC filings for Wendy's
- Search in Business Insights (accessible through BPL, among other libraries). McDonald's has a SWOT document, and note the difference an apostrophe makes when you do a search for McDonalds vs McDonald's.
- Search in ReferenceUSA (same access as above). Look up Emil Brolick, the CEO, to see what other businesses and organizations he's on the board of.
- Look up donations and lobbying activities on OpenSecrets.org.
- Search Wendy's on PR Watch.
- Some of the chatter on Financial BoardCentral may be useful.
Case Study #2: Koch Industries (a private corporation)
- Getting a general idea:
- Wikipedia -Wikipedia actually has a transparency (regarding bias, etc.) that other sources don't.
- Internal (but publicly available) sites
- My favorite from the newsroom (PDF)
- Getting a general idea - news sources:
- CNBC (exec pay here, but where are the sources?)
- Time Magazine's most influential people (2011)
- Christian Science Monitor
- Digging into labor/political sources:
- The Business Journals
- PR Watch
- National Labor Relations Board
- EPA (PDF) - it's better if you have a specific event, incident, issue to research (over an open search for general issues, complaints. But if you know, for example, that there's a lawsuit of some kind, you can come here and learn more about it, obtain documents, etc.
Question from a participant: How can you find out who they're donating to besides the politicians? Try searching for news articles, reports from organizations that work on various issues. Strategies for working with long text documents - do CTRL-F (or Command-F on a Mac) to jump directly to relevant keywords such as "donor," "contribute," forms of the verb "donate," etc. Also use those keywords with the name of your target in periodical database searches for news articles.
Case Study #3: The Chamber of Commerce
- What are they, anyway? Wikipedia page
- USCC website - organizational history, activities, reports
- What's a 501(c)(6)? IRS info on 501(c)(6) organizations (PDF)
- What do they do? What issues are important? USCC lobbying activities
- Look at USCC tax returns at Guidestar.org.
- What corporations are contributing? Public Citizen investigates (PDF)