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A Study of Business Preparedness Factors and Preparedness Measure Selection Open Access

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Businesses today face a wide variety of threats that include natural disasters, as well as technological and manmade disasters. Additionally, these businesses have a wide variety of potential preparedness measures to choose from when attempting to mitigate the impact of these disasters. In an attempt to help businesses better prepare for disasters, preparedness standards such as NFPA 1600, ASIS SPC.1-2009, BS 25999-2, and ISO 22301 have been developed. Unfortunately, to fully implement a standard would require a significant investment that many small businesses may not be able to make. The government defines a small business, under 13 CFR part 121 as non-government entities with less than 500 employees. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of firms with fewer than 20 employees represents 90% of the total number of firms in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). For purposes of this study, the term business will be used to refer to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. In this study, preparedness is defined as "a state of readiness to respond to a disaster, crisis, or any other type of emergency situation. It includes activities, programs, and systems that exist before an emergency that are used to support and enhance response to an emergency or disaster" (Bullock and Haddow 2005). This research uses existing data to investigate how the preparedness measures taken by businesses compare with the standards and develops a framework based on the standards to help businesses evaluate their preparedness. Additionally, this research uses existing data to investigate whether demographic information about a business can be used to predict preparedness measures a business already has in place. Finally, this research describes a preparedness measure selection tool that allows businesses to prioritize preparedness measures based upon the quantified expected benefit of a preparedness measure to the business and an associated cost comparison. It is proposed that this preparedness measure selection tool could serve as an alternative to the compliance based approach which relies upon generic prescriptive standards by providing a means to identify, prioritize, and possibly select preparedness measures consistent with the nature of each individual business.

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