International sourcing statistics - all activities (iss)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union


Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)



For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT

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1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Unit G6: Trade in services; Globalisation

1.5. Contact mail address

5 rue Alphonse Weicker

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG


2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 01/01/2020
2.2. Metadata last posted 01/01/2020
2.3. Metadata last update 01/01/2020


3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The data has been collected through a survey of enterprises with at least 50 persons employed.

The data category covers a group of variables which provide relevant statistical evidence and information about factors driving international sourcing e.g. the impact on the competitiveness, motivations and perceived barriers together with possible employment consequences in the Member State. 

There have been three collection rounds:
1) In 2007 the data has been collected on a voluntary basis for 13 countries: Germany, Czechia, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Finland, Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Norway.
2) In 2011 the data has been collected on a voluntary basis for 15 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden and Norway.
3) In 2017 the data has been collected on a voluntary basis for 16 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and Norway.

The data focuses on the relocation of core and support business functions of enterprises in the business economy sector, from domestic to abroad and vice versa, as a result of decisions taken by the domestic enterprises.

In summary, the collected indicators are :

  • Number of enterprises
  • Number of jobs created and jobs relocated abroad.
  • Number of persons employed.

The dimensions used to describe the International sourcing are:

  • Economic activity
  • Enterprise group identification
  • Sourcing status
  • Business function
  • Sourcing activities
  • Type of business partners
  • Country destination of international sourcing
  • Job creation/job relocation abroad identification
  • Motivation factors and their level of importance
  • Movement of business functions to and from abroad
  • Barriers for international sourcing

In the 2018 collection round three new dimensions were include:

  • Jobs created as a result of international sourcing
  • Type of movement of business functions from abroad
3.2. Classification system

In the 2007 collection round, the economic activity classification used is the NACE Rev 1.1. In the 2011 and 2018 this was replaced by NACE Rev 2. Definitions, units etc. come from official sources e.g. balance of payments manual as far as possible. Specific definitions needed for this data collection are defined in the International Sourcing Task Force, whose members have been the participating countries, chaired by Eurostat. 

The country codes used are from the geographical classification ISO3166

3.3. Coverage - sector

2007: NACE Rev.1.1. Sections C to K excluding Section J; the so-called non-financial business economy.

2011: NACE Rev.2. Sections B to N excluding Section K; the so-called non-financial business economy.

2018: NACE Rev.2. Sections B to N excluding Section K; the so-called non-financial business economy.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

1. Sourcing activities

  • Sourcing: The total or partial movement of business functions (core or support business functions) currently performed in-house of a resident enterprise to either non-affiliated (external suppliers) or affiliated enterprises located either domestically or abroad.
  • International sourcing: The total or partial movement of business functions (core or support business functions) currently performed in-house or currently domestically sourced by the resident enterprise to either non-affiliated (external suppliers) or affiliated enterprises located abroad.
  • Sourcing does not include: Expansion domestically or abroad; for example a set-up of a new production line domestically or abroad without a movement of business functions domestically or abroad (core or support business functions) nor reduction of activity and/or jobs in the concerned enterprise.
  • Insourcing and outsourcing: The survey distinguishes between international sourcing to a foreign affiliate or daughter company within the same multinational enterprise group — so-called insourcing — and sourcing to external providers, called outsourcing.

2. Business functions

  • Core business function: Production of final goods or services intended for the market/for third parties carried out by the enterprise and yielding income. Core business function equals in most cases the primary activity of the enterprise. It may also include other (secondary) activities if the enterprise considers these to comprise part of their core functions.
  • Support business function: Support business functions (ancillary activities) are carried out in order to permit or facilitate production of goods or services intended for the market/for third parties by the enterprise. The outputs of the support business functions are not themselves intended directly for the market/for third parties. The support business functions are divided into:
    • Distribution and logistics
    • Marketing, sales and after sales services
    • ICT services
    • Administrative and management functions
    • Engineering and related technical services
    • Research and development
    • Other support functions

3. Units

  • Enterprise: The statistical unit of this survey is the enterprise. The enterprise is the smallest combination of legal units that is an organizational unit producing goods or services, which benefits from a certain degree of autonomy in decision making, especially for the allocation of its current resources. An enterprise carries out one or more activities at one or more locations. An enterprise may be a sole legal unit but can also be part of an enterprise group. The head of an enterprise group can either be located in the same country as the enterprises or in another country.
  • Enterprise group: An enterprise group is a set of enterprises controlled by the group head. The group head is a parent legal unit which is not controlled either directly or indirectly by any other legal unit. An enterprise group comprises of the group head and subsidiaries. The subsidiary enterprises of a subsidiary enterprise are considered to be subsidiaries of the parent enterprise. An enterprise group is an association of enterprises bound together by legal and/or financial links. A group of enterprises can have more than one decision-making centre, especially for policy on production, sales and profits. It may centralize certain aspects of financial management and taxation. It constitutes an economic entity which is empowered to make choices, particularly concerning the units which it comprises. (Council Regulation (EEC) N° 696/93 on Statistical Units)
  • Group head: A parent legal unit which is not controlled either directly or indirectly by any other legal unit. Control refers to the dominant influence of a parent unit over the medium and long-term strategies of one ore more subsidiaries; ie. the parent unit must be able to influence (directly or indirectly) the decision in the ordinary or extraordinary meetings of all the subsidiaries. (Business Register Recommendations Manual)
  • Global group head: A group head which is not controlled either directly or indirectly by any other legal unit (not a local group head, which has a foreign parent).
  • Ultimate controlling institutional unit: Ultimate controlling institutional unit of a foreign affiliate is the institutional unit, proceeding up a foreign affiliate's chain of control, which is not controlled by another institutional unit. Control means the ability to determine the general policy of an enterprise by choosing appropriate directors, if necessary. Enterprise A is deemed to be controlled by an institutional unit B when B controls -directly or indirectly- more than half of the shareholders' voting power or more than half of the shares. (Recommendations Manual on the Production of Foreign Affiliates Statistics)
  • Subsidiary: A single institutional unit secures control over a corporation by owning more than half the voting shares or otherwise controlling more than half the shareholders' voting power. Corporation C is said to be subsidiary of corporation B when: either corporation B controls more than half of the shareholders' voting power in corporation C or corporation B is a shareholder in C with the right to appoint or remove a majority of the directors of C. In order to control more than half the shareholders' voting power, an institutional unit needs not own any of the voting shares itself. A corporation C could be a subsidiary of another corporation B in which a third corporation A owns a majority of the voting shares. (European System of Accounts (ESA) 1995, [2.26])
  • Jobs lost/relocated abroad: Refers to the task carried out in the domestic enterprise and not to the person actually carrying out the tasks. This person could still be employed but carrying out other tasks in the same enterprise even if the task is sourced internationally.
  • Jobs created: Refers to the new jobs carried out as a result of international sourcing, i.e. an engineer has been employed as a result of budgetary savings due to the cost decrease achieved through engaging in international sourcing. 
3.5. Statistical unit

The statistical unit for international sourcing is the enterprise. In practice, many countries report data on the legal unit, which in most cases coincides with the enterprise.

3.6. Statistical population

In the 2007 data colleciton, the international sourcing statistics cover NACE Rev.1.1 (Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community) sections C to I and K, which broadly speaking covers Non-financial market activities. Spain covered only sections G, I, K and K. Accordingly, Spanish data is neither included in the EU Non-financial market aggregate (C to I and K) nor in the EU special aggregate over sections C, E, F, G, H, I, and K, but is included in the EU separate aggregates for sections G, H, I and K. The data refers to enterprises with more than 100 persons employed only.

In the 2011 and 2018 data collection, the international sourcing statistics cover NACE Rev 2 sections B-N excluding K which, just as in the 2007 data collection, broadly speaking covers Non-financial market activities.

3.7. Reference area

In the 2007 data collection round, data has been collected on a voluntary basis for 13 countries: Germany, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Finland, Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Norway.

In the 2011 data collection round, data has been collected on a voluntary basis for 15 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden and Norway.

In the 2018 data collection round, data has been collected on a voluntary basis for 16 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and Norway.

3.8. Coverage - Time

There have been three data collections in total.

The first data collection covers the period 2001-2006. The reference year displayed is 2007. The second data collection covers the period 2009-2011. The reference year displayed is 2011. For enterprise characteristics that can change within the reference period the situation at the end of the reference period is meant. 

The third data collection covers two periods from 2014-2017 (either 2014-2016 or 2015-2017). The reference year displayed is 2018.

Symbols, abbreviations and reference periods:

AT Austria 2015-2017
BG Bulgaria 2015-2017
DK Denmark 2014-2016
FI Finland 2015-2017
DE Germany 2014-2016
HU Hungary 2015-2017
IT Italy 2015-2017
LV Latvia 2015-2017
LT Lithuania 2015-2017
NL Netherlands 2014-2016
PT Portugal 2015-2017
PL Poland 2014-2016
RO Romania 2014-2016
SK Slovakia 2015-2017
SE Sweden 2014-2016
NO Norway 2014-2016

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.


4. Unit of measure Top

Units (enterprises)

Percentages (number of enterprises in %)


5. Reference Period Top

The basic reference period is the year.

Data referred to observe international sourcing in the period 2001-2006 and future plans was collected in 2007. The number of enterprises refers therefore to the situation in reference year 2007. For the number of jobs lost and created refers to the period 2001-2006.

Data referred to observe international sourcing in the period 2009-2011 did no longer contain future plans and was collected in 2011. The number of enterprises refers therefore to the situation in reference year 2011. For the number of jobs lost refers to the period 2009-2011.

The third data collection observed two periods, left for the participating country to choose - either 2014-2016 or 2015-2017. The number of enterprises refers to the situation in the latest year of the covered period (either 2016 or 2017). Number of jobs relocated abroad or created are reported for the entire period.


6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Data are collected under gentlemen's agreement within the context of the development of Structural Business Statistics. The data is covered by the rules on confidential data in force in the EU. The Parliament and Council Regulation No 295/2008 concerning Structural Business statistics provides a legal basis for the data collection.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Eurostat makes available all non-confidential data on its dissemination website.


7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Confidentiality - if data are of truly confidential nature according to the above mentioned regulation, they have to be flagged confidential, and they will not be published by Eurostat.


8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

No advanced schedule of dissemination.

8.2. Release calendar access

Not available.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see Principle 15 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.


9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Varied period. Future plans are for a triennial dissemination.


10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

No news releases on-line.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Globalisation patterns in EU trade and investment (future plans).

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Online database International sourcing statistics - all activities is available without restrictions.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not relevant.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Statistics in Focus publications contain commentary on these data occasionally.

The Statistics Explained article International sourcing and relocation of business functions contains an analysis and a visual presentation of data.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

No methodological manual is available. The data was collected by means of a statistical survey.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Not applicable


11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

This information is not available

11.2. Quality management - assessment

This information is not available


12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

The international sourcing project was undertaken to respond to identified needs from policy-makers and academics.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

No user satisfaction survey was undertaken

12.3. Completeness

The participation in the project was on a voluntary basis and therefore data is not available for all Member States.


13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

This information is not available.

13.2. Sampling error

This information is not available.

13.3. Non-sampling error

This information is not available.


14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Data were collected in the framework of a development project.

Data of the first survey cover the sourcing activities of enterprises during the period 2001-2006 and plans for IS activity during 2007-2009.

Data for the second survey cover the sourcing activities of enterprises during the period 2009-2011.

Data for the third survey cover the sourcing activities of enterprises during the period 2014-2017.

14.2. Punctuality

This information is not available.


15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

This information is not available.

15.2. Comparability - over time

The comparibility of all three surveys is limited due to the different number of reference years covered. The first survey covers six years (2001-2006) whereas the second and the third survey cover three years (2009-2011 and either 2014-2016 or 2015-2017). Additionally, the enterprises in the sample in the first and second surveys were only those that employ more than 100 people, whilst the third survey sampled enterprises employing more than 50 people.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

 The consistency with the Structural Business Statistics is assured.

15.4. Coherence - internal

Eurostat has performed internal consistency checks (consistency between series, aggregations etc.) before disseminating the data.


16. Cost and Burden Top

This information is not available.


17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Eurostat accepts revisions of data. However, as this is a once off ad hoc data collection revisions are unlikely.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Revisions can be carried out by Member States, information on any such changes are to be provided in the methodological reports accompanying the data. However, as this is a once off ad hoc survey revisions are very unlikely and major changes in methodology are impossible.


18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

International sourcing data are collected by the National Statistical Institutes (NSI) among enterprises.

The data are collected through statistical surveys. A common questionnaire to be used by all participating countries was developed. Many countries introduced additional questions and/or made changes to the existing questions, order of the questions or dropped some questions from the common questionnaire. 

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Ad-hoc surveys in 2007, 2012 and 2018. Future plans are for a triennial data collection.

18.3. Data collection

The information has been collected by means of a statistical survey. The enterprises concerned (more than 50 persons employed) are completely enumerated in most countries that participated in the project.

In most countries, the survey was done electronically and on a voluntary basis. The definitions were a part of the questionnaire. Cover letters were used to inform about the background of the survey and motivate enterprises to fill in the questionnaire. The fact the survey was voluntary affected the response rates, which in turn affected the quality of the results. As the International sourcing is a development project ad hoc survey and not part of the regular SBS survey, one should be careful when using and interpreting the results.

18.4. Data validation

At Eurostat level data is validated before publishing. A number of logical checks between different breakdowns are performed and consistency with Structural Business Statistics data is checked.

18.5. Data compilation

European Union aggregates (averages) are calculated according to the countries for which data are available. In the 2007 data collection Spain covered only sections G, I, K and K. Accordingly, Spanish data is neither included in the EU Non-financial market aggregate (C to I and K) nor in the EU special aggregate over sections C, E, F, G, H, I, and K, but is included in the EU separate aggregates for sections G, H, I and K. In the 2011 and 2018 data collection no such exceptions occured.

18.6. Adjustment

The European averages are calculated on a non-weighted basis (irrespective of the country - each enterprise is equally worth).


19. Comment Top

None


Related metadata Top


Annexes Top
IS-GVC Survey 2018 - Definitions
IS-GVC Survey 2018 - Questionnaire