This chapter primarily contains information about corporations and cooperatives. In some cases, e. g. for the division of corporations by size, we managed to extend and complement the series provided by the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland through the use of publications from the Federal Statistical Office. We did not perform a full evaluation of the printed data since it almost exclusively relates to the structure and evolution of corporations (limited companies).
Much less is known about private enterprises, recorded in the trade register as “sole proprietorships”, which exceeded corporations in numbers until the beginning of the 1970s. The official statistics do not offer any relevant series; the data secured from archives of private companies in the course of the National Fund project “Contributions to the quantitative description of economic development in Switzerland in the 19th century” (“Beiträge zur quantitativen Beschreibung wirtschaftlicher Entwicklung der Schweiz im 19. Jahrhundert”) is – with the exception of salary series – too heterogeneous and probably also not representative enough in order to build long term series or to be used as a basis for projections; and the systematic compilation of statistics printed in anniversary publications and monographs has not been started yet. Therefore, we are not currently able to provide statistics that represent the evolution of individual corporations or corporation groups.
While the official statistics may not provide any information on the conditions and development of sole proprietorships, it does offer some data on small retail business operations which has been included into the table section of this chapter. The summary of the development of retail trade revenues, grouped by branches and subbranches, should however be seen in a relative context: in order to form long-term series, we were forced several times to change the base of the index values originating from the publication “The Economy” (“Die Volkswirtschaft” / “La Vie économique”) for the years 1925–1948.
SOURCE: «Private Enterprise» in Ritzmann/Siegenthaler, Historical Statistics of Switzerland, Zürich: Chronos, 1996, 903-904