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OBHR 3P42: Organizational Structure and Redesign

Finding Primary Sources

Business People IconWhat are Primary Sources?

Primary sources in the context of organizational research refer to sources & content created by the organization such as annual reports and press releases. Most organizations will have a web presence, but keep in mind that many will have both a "public" web site and a "private" web site (e.g. a password-protected intranet or internal site) so you may or may not be able to find out much this way.

What kind of documents are you after? You want to think like an investigative journalist in order to answer the 5Ws (Who, What, Where, When, Why), as well as How, as it relates to your organization.

  • Start with the section that says Our Company or About Us.
    • Look for a description of the organization's vision, mission, and values. 
    • Look for an organization chart, or a list of key officers/executives.
    • Look for the latest strategic plan.
  • Look for a link that says News or For the Media.
    • Look for press releases or official statements (e.g. documents, audio recordings, podcasts, webcasts, transcribed speeches, or corporate videos). 
  • Look for a link that says Investor Relations or For Investors. If the organization is a nonprofit or charity, the link may say For Donors.
    • Look for quarterly and annual reports, corporate governance, sustainability reports, etc.
  • You may need to use the organization's web site's Site Map to find some of this information, which is typically linked at the header or footer of the home page.