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Study Finds Organizations Lacking in Crisis Preparedness

August 21, 2008 By

As the population increases so do hazards, but that increase in the hazards isn't being met with an increase in readiness among businesses, nonprofits and government, according to a report published by New York University's Center for Catastrophic Preparedness and Response (CCPR) and The Public Entity Risk Institute. 

The report, Predicting Organizational Crisis Readiness: Perspectives and Practices toward a Pathway to Preparedness, found a large number of organizations lacked effective preparedness programs to respond to and recover from a crisis (such as a natural disaster or an act of terrorism), despite predictions that crises are becoming more frequent and more complex. 

"We asked whether organizations were prepared for internal crises such as a financial crisis or accident and external crises such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster," Light said in an e-mail. 

Slightly more than half of government officials that responded to a survey for the report evaluated their preparedness level as "very ready." Just 29 percent of nonprofits considered themselves very ready and just 20 percent of businesses put themselves in that category.

The report acknowledges a direct relationship between population increases and an increase in hazards and states as this occurs, "levels of crises readiness among organizations remains low or poorly understood." 

The report examined characteristics that better position organizations and government to mitigate disasters and looked at predictors of crisis readiness. The report included results from a survey of leaders in government, business and nonprofit organizations and concluding with some of the following recommendations: 

  • Priorities: Crisis readiness should be given the same organizational priority as other mission-centered activities, such as fund raising, sales and marketing and branding and measurement.
  • Budgeting: Crisis readiness should be given an identifiable line in the organizational budget and it should not be subsumed in another budget.
  • Accountability: Readiness should be given clear grants of authority from the leadership and board.
  • Stafford Act Reform: Raise the limits of support and decrease the barriers for application for small businesses after a disaster.
  • Regulation: Set voluntary standards for crisis readiness through statutes and award programs.

Predicting Organizational Crisis Readiness: Perspectives and Practices toward a Pathway to Preparedness can be downloaded at the Web site and from the Resource Library on the PERI Web site. In addition to PERI and CCPR, the report was supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Morgan Stanley and the Prudential Corp.

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