Förderjahr 2020 / Stipendien Call #15 / ProjektID: 5035 / Projekt: Legal issues of user tracking technologies used by Austrian enterprises
Statistik Austria, Austria's Federal Statistical Office, lists 580.393 active Austrian enterprises for the year 2019. Whereof 341.767 are Single-Person Businesses, 147.892 have 1 to 4 employees, 44.957 have 5 to 9 employees and only 45.777 have more 10 or more employees. A representative sample of Austrian enterprises would therefore contain a large amount of Single-Person Businesses, and a considerably smaller amount of businesses with employees.
When is a sample considered representative?
Before I go into details on how and why I was not able to contact a representative sample of Austrian enterprises, I want to give a short summary on representativity. Scientifically, representativity is given when your sample matches some characteristic of your population, usually the characteristic you’re targeting with your research. Therefore, my sample should include a wide variety of Austrian enterprises and as mentioned above my survey should be targeted especially at Single-Person businesses. Additionally, the number of contacted enterprises should be considerably high, as it should be based on the total number of Austrian enterprises.
Why I was not able to obtain such a sample?
There is simply no easy way to contact Austrian enterprises. The Austrian Economic Chamber, Wirtschaftskammer, lists all Austrian enterprises on their website, but does not offer any insight on the size of the regarding enterprise. Statistik Austria only provides summed up statistics about Austrian enterprises, but no contact data. I tried my best reaching the responsible person at Wirtschaftskammer, asking them to place a link to my survey in their newsletter. However, after a month of waiting and several unanswered emails, I just gave up. Shortly, I considered implementing a web crawler to get my needed data on user tracking directly from the websites of Austrian enterprises. That idea was killed by the simple fact, that there is also no list of websites operated by Austrian enterprises.
I finally resorted to contacting Trend magazine, because they are maintaining a list of Austria's Top 500 enterprises. After a few very friendly emails, they agreed to provide me with a simplified version of their list for scientific purposes only. With their data, I am finally able to send my survey to a very small and not at all representative sample of Austrian enterprises. The only thing left at this point is to hope for a significant number of responses.
Additionally, I am employed as IT consultant and responsible for one of Austria's major learning managment systems.