Business Vulnerability to Earthquakes and Other Disasters

Tierney, Kathleen J.
Webb, Gary R.
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Disaster Research Center
Focuses on research concerning businesses and disasters -what is currently known, what hazard researchers assumed they knew before empirical research showed otherwise, and what new insights recent research offers. How businesses fare in disaster situations is a new topic in the disaster field. Until relatively recently, there had been virtually no research devoted specifically to private sector disaster vulnerability, impacts, and recovery. Since the field of disaster research began, the overwhelming bulk of the studies carried out have focused on units other than businesses, such as households, public sector organizations with public safety and emergency management responsibilities, and communities. A considerable amount of research has been done on the economic impacts of disasters, but those studies focused primarily on measuring or modeling the regional and macroeconomic impacts following disaster events, rather than on the ways in which hazards and disasters affect business firms (see, for example, Dacy and Kunreuther, 1969; Cochrane, 1975; Wright et al., 1979; Friesema et al., 1979; Cohea, 1993; Gordon et al., 1995; Jones and Chang, 1995; Rose et al., 1997). Essentially, prior to the early 1990s, there had been very few studies assessing disaster impacts at the firm level or analyzing how disasters effect these basic building blocks of the economy. Even after researchers began looking more closely at private-sector organizations, that work typically involved small samples and particular types of firms, such as small businesses (Alesch et al., 1993; Kroll et al., 1991) or firms representing specific economic sectors, such as Drabek's work on disaster preparedness and response among tourism-oriented businesses (1994), Lindell' s research on local emergency planning committees whose activities center on chemical emergency preparedness (1994),' and Lindell and Peny's studies on preparedness measures undertaken by hazardous materials facilities (1938). While yielding important insights, findings from these kinds of studies cannot be generalized more broadly to businesses of all types.
business vulnerability , , , businesses , business recovery