Determinants of Business-Disaster Preparedness in Two U.S. Metropolitan Areas

August 1997 (VOL. 15, NO. 2)

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Although there has been a proliferation of “how-to” planning guides in recent years, there has been very little documentation of the variation in and determinants of business-disaster preparedness. The few studies that have been conducted have focused on specific firms or industrial sectors, such as the chemical or tourist industry, or have been plagued by too few cases. These problems clearly limit the generalizability of the research findings. This paper attempts to fill a void in the literature by exploring the determinants and variations of planning within the private sector utilizing two stratified, random samples of businesses from Memphis/Shelby County, Tennessee (N=737), and Des Moines/Polk County, Iowa (N=1,079). Findings show that business size, whether the business property is owned or leased, and prior disaster experience are all related to business-preparedness in both study areas. Type of business was related to preparedness among businesses in Memphis/Shelby County. Policy implications of the findings are discussed.