Locate key business information resources for academic research.

Why Know It?

Understanding the structure of a company helps to:

  • Assess whether to search on a different name or on the parent company to get the most information.
  • Track turnover within a company, or track a company's stability over time.
  • Determine ownership, products, and brands.


These key terms are used by Dun and Bradstreet.  Consult individual business sources to understand their definitions. 

  • Corporate Family Location

Top-most company of a corporate family

  • Headquarters

Main office of a company. Implies existence of one or more branches reporting to it, under same name.

  • Branch

Secondary location of a company. Reports to headquarters and carries same name as headquarters.

  • Division

Secondary location of a company. Reports to headquarters but usually has a distinct name or trade name.

  • Parent

Corporation that owns more than half of the voting stock of another corporation (the subsidiary).

  • Subsidiary

Corporation in which more than half of its voting stock is owned by another company


(Source: Pagell, Ruth A. and Michael Halperin. International Business Information: How to Find It, How to Use It. 2nd edition, p. 155)

Tracing Corporate Hierarchy


Besides a company's website, specialized business directories will track corporate structure. Tip: When figuring total sales for a company, you may need to analyze multiple records (headquarters and branches) for a fuller picture. Consult the introduction or the publisher for clarification about data.

  • Corporate Affiliations (public, private, U.S. and international companies)
    Find corporate hierarchies and linkages for all major public and private companies and their subsidiaries worldwide. Provides business descriptions, basic financials, detailed competitor listings, brands, and service firms. Creates lists of foreign firms operating in the US and vice versa, has historical data, tracks mergers and acquisitions, and provides executive and board member listings. Database limited to one user at a time.

  • International Directory of Company Histories
    Search for the name of company, or its parent, for profiles or records that mention it. Good for in-depth history, founders, personnel, changes, and mergers and acquisitions.
  • Brands and their Companies, a directory through Advanced Search in Gale Directory Library, will match companies to their brands.
  • Data Axle (formerly ReferenceUSA)
    • Listings for public and private companies and nonprofit organizations are based on annual reports, national phone books, newspapers, post office forms and legal filings. 
    • Guided search customizes by location, industry and company status.
    • Up and down arrows by results depict corporate hierarchy. Click on arrows to see what a company owns, or who owns that company. Parent company record will have both an up and down arrow by its name. 
  • Mergent Online by FTSE Russell
    Individual profiles concisely outline a company's history.  Some search methods include: 1) a basic search on the company name, 2) an advanced "corporate information" search on the name of a subsidiary, or 3) an advanced "textual" search on a company name in "business history."
  • Nexis Uni
    Choose the company search option to find company profiles, announcements, and news.

Annual Reports

Filings and annual reports will disclose the company's structure and information on its mergers and acquisitions.

Articles and News

Use the News, Articles  link to search for timely information on a company's structure and related changes.