The CATI data bank is a relational database which contains separate data files that can be linked to each other and provide both disaggregated and combined information from several files. So far information on thousands of technology-related inter-firm partnerships has been collected for the period 1960-1998. Systematic collection of inter-firm partnerships started in 1987. Many sources from earlier years are consulted to establish a retrospective view. In order to collect information on inter-firm alliances various sources are consulted: newspaper and journal articles, books dealing with the subject, and in particular specialized journals which report on business events. Company annual reports, the Financial Times Industrial Companies Yearbooks and Dun & Bradstreet's 'Who Owns Whom' provide information about dissolved equity ventures and investments, as well as ventures that were not registered when surveying alliances.
This method of information gathering which one can refer to as 'literature-based alliance counting' has its drawbacks and limitations due to the lack of publicity for certain arrangements, low profile of certain groups of companies and fields of technology. Despite these shortcomings, which are largely unsolvable even in a situation of extensive and large-scale data-collection, this database is able to produce a clear picture of the joint efforts of many companies. This enables researchers to perform empirical research, which goes beyond case studies.
The data bank contains information on each agreement and some information on companies participating in these agreements. The first entity is the inter-firm cooperative agreement. Cooperative agreements are defined as common interests between independent (industrial) partners who are not connected through (majority) ownership. In the CATI database only those inter-firm agreements are being collected that contain some arrangements for transferring technology or joint research. Joint research pacts and second-sourcing are clear-cut examples. Information is also collected on joint ventures in which new technology is received from at least one of the partners, or joint ventures having some R&D program. Mere production or marketing joint ventures are excluded. In other words, this material is primarily related to R&D collaboration and technology cooperation, i.e. those agreements for which a combined innovative activity or an exchange of technology is at least part of the agreement.