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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Study: Businesses Not Prepared for Terrorism

In this election season, voters consistently rate terrorism and homeland security as among their top concerns. However, a two-year study reveals that businesses don't appear to share those worries.

Shortly before 9/11, Ian Mitroff and Dr. Murat Alpaslan began a survey of Fortune 1000 companies to determine their preparedness for terrorist attacks and other emergencies. They followed up on the one- and two-year anniversaries of 9/11, and found that little had been done to increase levels of emergency preparedness and crisis management:

Immediately after 9/11, preparation for all kinds of crises shot up dramatically, but especially for terrorism. The reasons were just as important as the increases themselves. Most executives that we talked to reported that their companies increased their preparations because, “it was the right thing to do irrespective of costs.”

One and two years later, only a tiny fraction of companies are continuing their preparations for terrorism and other crises but “if and only if they are cost effective.” Even more disturbing, preparations for terrorism as well as all other crises spiked about one year after 9/11 and they have continued to decrease dramatically. With few exceptions, we are back to the same low levels of crisis preparation that we were prior to 9/11. [Emphasis from the original article]

Mitroff points to the Northeast power failure of August 2003 as evidence that businesses remain complacent about crisis management. However, he does credit those companies that are taking crisis planning seriously and are being proactive.

Unfortunately, this kind of head-in-the-sand thinking is all too common in the business community. Crisis management and disaster recovery don't provide immediate return on investment; therefore, they're the first expenses cut during rounds of budget tightening. Then something happens, and everyone asks the inevitable question: "Why wasn't something done to prevent this?"

Anyone who thinks about the future knows that, sooner or later, the fecal matter is going to hit the fan. Just ask the folks in Florida who have recently been battered by hurricanes...

Source: World Future Society