11 resources that will help you map a corporate network

Large corporations wield significant influence over many parts of society – including politics and natural resources. With the help of open data, you can now begin to map out (partially) what some of these transnational networks look like. Whether it is finding companies related to a politician or grouping the subsidiaries of a tech giant – you’re probably looking for a place to store and make public these data points. What better place than the world’s largest open database of companies in the world – OpenCorporates.com.

Corporate groupings on OpenCorporates started off as a quick prototype we developed and used in-house as a way to group together companies that were found to be part of the same network through regulatory filings (most of which are still in PDF form). However, the feature was adopted by our community who started to used it as their online journal of research, in some cases grouping together hundreds of companies (e.g., Disney and Koch Industries).

What’s great about corporate groupings are that they are public, hence – searchable. They’re often used by journalists and NGOs as a starting point for their research. They also appear in the search results when someone looks for a company in the network in OpenCorporates. Creating new lists or adding new companies to existing lists is open to any registered user in OpenCorporates, so you can keep building them up.

For instance, when our community members started transcribing the corporate network of Donald Trump from his Federal Election Commission disclosure documents (a massive 104 page PDF) – they found just over 500 entities. However, thanks to the ongoing efforts of our community members, the network now stands at more than 1000 entities!

To help you get started on an investigation, we present below a crowdsourced list of resources that may be helpful, obtained from investigative journalists and NGOs who use OpenCorporates on a day-to-day basis.  Why not start by creating a new Corporate Grouping today?

Investigating through open company data

  1. How to create a corporate grouping on OpenCorporates.com: Video tutorial
  2. The Idiot’s Guide to Money Laundering by Global Witness
  3. Why corporate structures need to be open data by Chris Taggart and Hera Hussain of OpenCorporates
  4. Can the UK’s beneficial ownership data be used to investigate corruption & money laundering? By Hera Hussain of OpenCorporates
  5. Mapping BP – using open data to track Big Oil by Johnny West of OpenOil
  6. Ingredients of an open data investigation by Sam Leon of Global Witness

FOI and Online Journalism

  1. Story-based inquiry: a manual for investigative journalists by Mark Lee Hunter
  2. The Investigative Journalist’s Guide to Company Accounts by Raj Bairoliya of CIJ
  3. Freedom of Information by Matt Burgess
  4. FOIA without the Lawyer by Montague Amin and Lucas Amin of CIJ
  5. Paul Bradshaw’s Online Journalism blog.


BONUS: For the data nerds – check out our data series which explain how corporate control manifests itself in data and how we model this in OpenCorporates: https://blog.opencorporates.com/category/data-model/

Here are some great corporate groupings done by our community: Tesla Motors, Black Rock and Swatch group.

Did you find this useful? Give us a shout on twitter @opencorporates or join our slack where you can ask questions and collaborate over investigations: slack.opencorporates.com