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Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy, 2012

Monday, March 10, 2014

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Global value chains

Business activities performed outside of Canada

In 2012, 13.7% of enterprises performed production activities (the production of goods and the provision of services) outside of Canada, up from 10.1% in 2009.

In 2012, 12.9% of Canadian enterprises performed support activities, such as distribution and logistics or human resource management, down from 15.1% in 2009. Enterprises continued to perform technical activities (10.1%), including information and communication technology services and research and development, at a similar rate as in 2009 (10.3%).

Large enterprises led in performing business activities outside of Canada in 2012. Almost one-half of large enterprises performed support activities (48.9%) outside of Canada, while 38.5% performed technical activities and 37.7% performed production activities. Overall, a lower proportion of small and medium-sized enterprises performed business activities outside of Canada.

Table 1

Business activities performed outside of Canada – outsourced

In 2012, 5.4% of Canadian enterprises outsourced the production of goods outside of Canada, 3.3% outsourced the provision of services and 3.1% outsourced distribution and logistics.

Enterprises in wholesale trade (15.2%) and manufacturing (10.7%) were the most likely to outsource the production of goods outside of Canada.

Enterprises in professional, scientific and technical services (14.0%) and transportation and warehousing (9.2%) led in outsourcing the provision of services outside of Canada in 2012.

Enterprises in manufacturing (8.2%) and transportation and warehousing (7.2%) were more apt to contract out distribution and logistics activities in other countries in 2012.

Human resource management, financial management and call centers and help centers were the three support activities least likely to be performed outside Canada and outsourced in 2012. Most Canadian enterprises maintained domestic in-house control of human resource management and financial management.

Table 2

Regional perspective on business activities performed outside of Canada

In 2012, enterprises in Ontario consistently had higher rates of performing production (19.4%), technical (13.9%) and support (17.3%) activities outside of Canada than the national average. In all but technical activities, enterprises headquartered in Ontario led their regional counterparts in performing activities abroad.

Enterprises in Alberta led in performing technical activities (14.3%) abroad.

Table 3

Obstacles to exporting or attempting to export, 2010 to 2012

Enterprises have many opportunities to be active globally. Performing business activities abroad is a facet of operating in the global economy. Another facet is exporting or attempting to export goods or services to enterprises outside of Canada. While the business strategy of enterprises can include exporting, not all exporting attempts are successful as there are many obstacles to entering global markets.

For the three-year period from 2010 to 2012, 20.8% of enterprises exported or attempted to export goods or services to an enterprise outside of Canada, almost unchanged from 21.8% for the three-year period from 2007 to 2009.

During the 2010 to 2012 period, large enterprises (37.5%) were the most likely to export or attempt to export, followed by medium-sized (25.2%) and small (19.1%) enterprises. Overall, enterprises in manufacturing (56.2%) and information and cultural industries (33.7%) led in exporting or attempting to export goods or services to enterprises outside of Canada.

Ontario was the region with the highest percentage of enterprises that exported or attempted to export from 2010 to 2012 at 25.4%, above the rate of 20.8% for Canada. It was followed by Quebec (20.9%), Alberta (18.0%), the rest of Canada (16.5%) and the Atlantic provinces (11.3%).

Enterprises, however, face many obstacles to exporting or attempting to export goods or services outside of Canada. During the 2010 to 2012 period, 29.7% of enterprises that exported or attempted to export rated meeting the cost requirements of customers as a highly important obstacle, unchanged from the 2007 to 2009 period (29.5%).

During the 2007 to 2009 period, one-quarter (25.0%) of enterprises that exported or attempted to export found that border security issues were obstacles of high importance. During the 2010 to 2012 period, this rate was down to 11.5%. The proportion of enterprises in all three size groups that found border security issues an obstacle of high importance to exporting or attempting to export was lower in 2010 to 2012 than in 2007 to 2009, perhaps indicating that Canadian firms are adjusting to new border security regulations.

Table 4

Domestic business activities of enterprises in Canada

Of the three major business activities, support activities were mostly likely to be performed domestically (94.6%), up from 89.8% in 2009. Overall, domestic performance of technical activities (73.7%) remained relatively unchanged from 2009 (71.2%). The third major business activity, domestically performed production activities, decreased from 93.0% in 2009 to 87.3% in 2012.

Domestic outsourcing of business activities in 2012

Overall, 44.2% of enterprises in Canada domestically outsourced legal services, the most commonly domestically outsourced activity in 2012. Although 31.4% of large enterprises employed in-house legal services, large enterprises also had the highest rate of domestically outsourcing legal services (57.3%). Meanwhile, two-thirds of enterprises in real estate and rental and leasing (66.4%) domestically outsourced legal services in 2012, followed closely by enterprises in utilities (62.2%).

The second most commonly domestically outsourced business activity by enterprises in 2012 was information and communication technology (ICT) services. Overall, 26.3% of enterprises domestically outsourced ICT services, 27.0% of small enterprises looked outside for ICT services while larger enterprises contracted out ICT services to other enterprises in Canada at slightly lower rates.

Note to readers

The 2012 Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy (SIBS) is a joint initiative of Statistics Canada; Industry Canada; the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; Institut de la statistique du Québec; the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and Employment and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation; and Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education.

SIBS 2012 provides key information on strategic decisions, innovation activities and operational tactics used by Canadian enterprises. Innovation data are collected for a three-year period. For SIBS 2012, the three-year period was 2010 to 2012 while for the previous iteration of SIBS (2009), the three-year period was 2007 to 2009.

The SIBS 2012 sample was composed of 7,818 enterprises in Canada with at least 20 employees and revenues of $250,000 or more. These enterprises spanned 14 sectors within the North American Industry Classification System (2007). In 2012, the sample was stratified into five regions: the Atlantic region; Quebec; Ontario; Alberta; and the rest of Canada; the previous SIBS (2009) was not stratified by region. For Canada, the sample was also stratified by industry groups and by enterprise size: small (20 to 99 employees); medium (100 to 249 employees) and large (250 or more employees). Data collection for the 2012 reference period was undertaken between March and August 2013.

SIBS 2012 estimates are provided as percentages accompanied by quality indicators. Data quality indicators are based on the standard error and number of observations in the estimates. Quality indicators for SIBS are the following:

A is very reliable (standard error between 0% and 2.49%);

B is reliable (standard error between 2.50% and 7.49%);

E is use with caution (standard error between 7.50% and 14.99%); and

F is too unreliable to be published (standard error greater than or equal to 15.00%).


Performed outside of Canada: Enterprises that performed some or all of the business activity outside of Canada.

Performed within Canada: Enterprises that performed some or all of the business activity within Canada.

Production activities comprise the production of goods or the provision of services.

Technical activities comprise software development; information and communication technology services; engineering and related technical services or research and development.

Support activities comprise distribution and logistics; call centers and help centers; marketing, sales and after sales service; data processing; legal services; accounting and book-keeping; human resource management; financial management; or other types of business activities.

Available in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table358-0224CANSIM table358-0225 and CANSIM table358-0229.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number5171.

This is the second of three planned releases from the 2012 Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy. The next release will be on business strategy. The first release was on innovation.

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Louise Earl (613-951-2880) or Marc Nadeau (613-951-3692), Investment, Science and Technology Division.



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