The GEM 'Adult Population Survey' (APS) is a unique instrument used to measure the level and nature of entrepreneurial activity around the world. It is administered by GEM National Teams to a representative national sample of at least 2000 respondents.
Surveys are conducted at the same time of year (generally between April and June), generally by an independent survey vendor, chosen by each economy’s GEM team. The vendor submits a proposal for the GEM data collection, which is reviewed by the central GEM data team on various criteria. The raw data is sent directly to the GEM data team for review, quality check and uniform statistical calculations before being made available to the participating economies.
The goal is to explore the role of the individual in the lifecycle of the entrepreneurial process. The focus is not only on business characteristics, but also on people’s motivation for starting a business, the actions taken to start and run a business, as well as entrepreneurship related attitudes.
The APS has two main structural components: modules and blocks. First, the survey is comprised of a number of different modules. These are groups of questions which differ either because they are optional vs. mandatory or based on the topic of the questions. These modules are then distributed within the questionnaire in different blocks, which are differentiated by the type of respondents the questions are intended for. So, an optional module of questions about business networks, for example, can be included in one block which is intended for business owners and in another block which is intended for nascent entrepreneurs.
For the most part, different blocks of questions are aimed at different types of respondents - for example, while questions in the introductory block are asked of everyone, block 1 questions are intended for only nascent entrepreneurs. Similarly, block 2 questions are meant for owner-mangers who are already running a business, and so on.
The APS is also comprised of different modules. The core APS module refers to the group of mandatory questions which do not change from year to year and must be included in the survey by all National Teams. These are scattered throughout the blocks and data from these questions are used to derive the main GEM indicators, such as the early stage entrepreneurship activity rate (TEA).
There is also a 'Special Topic' module - a set of questions which changes annually. These questions focus on different research topics, further exploring aspects of entrepreneurship not already covered in the core APS. These questions may be included in one or more blocks, depending on the type of respondent they are intended for. Though the Special Topic module is mandatory for all teams, there are often optional questions within this module.
Finally, a National Team may choose to include a set of optional questions if they want to expand their survey. These optional modules may be suggested by other National Teams or they may be derived from previous year’s special topics, either in full or in an abbreviated version. If a team wishes to add one or more optional modules, GEM will provide instructions on how to integrate them into their survey.