This post is part of Investigating Companies: A Do-It-Yourself Handbook. Read, download or purchase the whole book here.
Companies get a lot of work from the World Bank and its affiliates such as the International Finance Corporation, the Multilateral Investment and Guarantee Agency and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, both through direct procurement and their notoriously pro-business policies.
Their websites and printed publications also have a great deal of information on what companies are up to around the world. Don’t get bogged down in their analysis and prescriptions however – their default ‘solution’ for ‘developing’ countries remains to bring in more companies and corporate investment.
The London-based NGO the Bretton Woods Project keeps a critical eye on the activities of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Other international institutions include:
REGIONAL MULTILATERAL DEVELOPMENT BANKS
The websites of institutions such as the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Inter-American Development Bank have similar regional information, with the same caveats.
WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION (WTO)
Records the various international trade agreements it brokers, as it follows its mission to make the world as corporate-friendly as possible.
Of United Nations bodies, those particularly relevant for anyone doing corporate research are the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The European Union and European Investment Bank websites produce lots of research, facts and statistics about companies active in Europe. Again, any analysis on these sites should be read very critically.
The websites of many of the organisations above also contain databases of statistics that may be useful for research. If you’re looking into the scale of corporate power for example, you may want to compare a country’s GDP to a company’s revenue.If you’re researching a mining company, you may want to find out about a country’s mineral exports, or if you’re investigating banks, you may be interested in data relating to the size of the financial sector as a proportion of a country’s economy, or the amount of state aid they receive.