Inter-enterprise relations

Eurostat launched a one-off survey with qualitative questions on relationships between enterprises. This approach is in contrast to the normal SBS framework where respondents are usually asked to deliver input and output data on their own enterprise, rather than information relating to any relations they have with other enterprises.

Data was collected on a voluntary basis in six Member States (Denmark, Germany, France, Portugal, Finland and Sweden). Since the origin of the idea to launch the project came from a French project and the methodological model had already been developed in France before its agreement and adaptation with the other five countries, the French data set is somewhat different and is not 100 % comparable.

Methodological work concentrated on the definition of types of inter-enterprise relationships. It is evident that a variety of subcontracting and outsourcing relationships exist, and that franchising is also an option in some business models, but an all-encompassing definition for all types of relationships was not agreed. As a result, only the most prevalent forms of co-operation and dependencies were defined for the survey.

The normal relationship between an enterprise and its suppliers/clients was not the focus of this survey. Large enterprises, in particular, tend to have different internal functions, for example R&D, ICT, or ancillary functions, for which different types of inter-enterprise relationships may exist. The main idea of the survey was to separate these from the core activities of the enterprise and to study the types of relationships involved. Linkages that exist between inter-dependent enterprises, such as between the headquarters of an enterprise and its subsidiaries were also excluded from the reference population.

As such, the pilot survey concentrated on questions such as how enterprises evaluate the importance of their relationships with others in terms of their own competitiveness, and which barriers are identified as preventing them from engaging in inter-enterprise relationships or obstructing the development of their enterprise.


Data on inter-enterprise relations are broken down by:

  • country;
  • enterprise size class, and by;
  • economic activity (NACE).