Investigate factors most likely to motivate businesses of all sizes to collaborate with the public sector to build disaster resilience in different types of communities (for example, rural and urban).

As described in Chapter 4 and in the summary of the committee’s workshop (NRC, 2010), there are a number of impediments to business participation in private–public collaboration of all types, including those centering on disaster resilience. The barriers include private–public sector cultural differences, concerns about information sharing, and wariness of government mandates and regulations. What is not clear is how to overcome such challenges and increase incentives for business participation in disaster-loss–reduction activities. Incentives are multifaceted and vary among different types of businesses. For example, some workshop participants argued that business-sector involvement in private–public sector collaboration is motivated partially by an understanding of the direct benefits of participation in resilience-building collaboration, the desire to maintain favorable public perceptions, and liability concerns. The bulk of what is known about factors that motivate business engagement in resilience-enhancing activities is anecdotal. It is impossible to answer even simple questions, such as whether business organizations are motivated primarily by concerns about the safety of their own properties and operations; or whether business size, profitability, length of tenure in a community, being a branch or franchise of a larger national organization, or participating in other community-improvement ventures predicts business involvement in disaster-related private–public partnerships.

Anecdotal evidence points to the need to understand better the diverse views of resilience and emergency-management issues held by both private-sector and public-sector collaborators. As described in Chapter 3, public-safety agencies often underestimate private-sector interest and involvement in emergency-preparedness efforts. Similarly, private-sector groups often overestimate the capabilities of public-sector partners, failing to recognize the need for their own contributions to disaster management. Research to assess the effect of community context on private-sector participation is also needed: Is such participation more likely in rural communities than in urban or suburban communities? In higher-risk communities as opposed to those in which disasters are less frequent?

In sum, there is a pressing need to understand better why the business sector is drawn to disaster-resilience–building collaboration at the community level, the different perceptions held by various collaborators, and the types of incentives that resonate with business leaders. Furthermore, partnerships and partner motivations are not static over the long term. There are different levels of collaboration, ranging from simple networking to forming contractual partnerships. What incentives are most likely to encourage greater levels of participation?

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