We study the (macroeconomic) consistency of individual firm-level business tendency survey responses and take firm-level heterogeneity explicitly into account. Adding firm-level, industry- and region-specific structural characteristics allows controlling for additional microeconomic heterogeneity. The dataset we use are the business tendency survey micro data for Austrian manufacturing covering the time period 1996 to 2012. Our results show that firm-specific information embedded in the qualitative survey questions is relevant to understand aggregate business cycle dynamics. For example, the assessment of firms' order book levels, their current degree of capacity utilisation and their production expectations as well as obstacles in their production activities due to insufficient demand show evidence of a significant effect in explaining a firm's change in current production output. However, we do not find clear results with respect to firm size, nor do we find explanatory power of the industry affiliation of a firm and with respect to regional characteristics. We are able to identify heterogeneity in behaviour for cyclical up- and downswings as well as between large and small firms.
business cycle business tendency surveys firm-level expectations ordered probit