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NORC investigates entrepreneurial activity, business practices, and workplace conditions to understand their role in economic development overall and for specific populations.

Understanding how policies best support entrepreneurial growth requires an understanding of existing business owners and prospective entrepreneurs, including those engaged in activities such as freelancing or participation in the gig economy. Surveys on business dynamics provide valuable information on the proliferation of business practices across different types of companies and industries. Businesses, governments, academic institutions, and other stakeholders need evidence-based solutions to build inclusive prosperity and entrepreneur-focused economic development initiatives.

NORC has assembled an interdisciplinary team of researchers whose areas of expertise include behavioral economics, labor and employment, sociology, economics, public policy, statistics, and survey methodology. Our researchers have surveyed individual business owners, employees of large and small firms, and from across all industry types. Several of our surveys use the General Social Survey (GSS) sampling frame to identify a representative sample of organizations, most notably the National Organizations Study and the National Congregations Study. Our research examines interest in and involvement and experiences with entrepreneurship, pathways to business ownership, including individuals in the process of starting a business and those who are no longer business owners. The focus of our work includes gender and racial inequality in entrepreneurship and the inequality impacts of business practices and workplace policies.  

As part of our work with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, NORC is providing relevant and timely research on entrepreneurship trends in the U.S. economy. Our data briefs, data dashboards, public use data files, and microdata files provide researchers, practitioners, and policymakers with insights into the experiences of individuals at various points along the entrepreneurial journey, as well as the influences that support or inhibit entrepreneurship across the U.S. Our analysis also estimates the prevalence of gig work across the U.S., and how participation in these activities differs across demographic groups and areas of the U.S. The EPOP survey is the first study we are aware of to provide state- and metropolitan statistical area-level estimates of entrepreneurial behavior and gig work activity.  These latter estimates are important for understanding the potential impacts of local policy on entrepreneurial activities.

For the U.S. Business Cloud Use Survey, we developed a new survey to collect data from businesses across industries to identify how many what types of companies are adopting cloud computing. The survey examines the business impacts and challenges of information technology adoption with a specific focus on public cloud infrastructure. The survey targets companies in ten industries, particularly manufacturing, information, finance and insurance, and professional, scientific, and technical services. This work is timely, given all the changes individuals and businesses have experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Entrepreneurship & Business Dynamics Experts

Highlighted Projects

Entrepreneurship in the Population: Indiana (EPOP-IN)

Understanding views and experiences with business ownership and self-employment in Indiana


Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP)

The General Social Survey

The most rigorous, widely used data on the attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of the American public


The National Science Foundation