An important caveat is that judgments concerning “acceptable” levels of uncertainty, like those concerning acceptable risk, are social rather than scientific.

Research on societal responses to natural, technologic, and other threats shows that there is no necessary connection between understanding risks and taking action on the basis of understanding (NRC, 2006). As discussed above, even when well aware of the risks faced, some groups lack the capacity to take recommended measures, for example, because of financial, health, mental health, and language issues. The large literature on factors that affect disaster preparedness shows that better-off segments of the public—as measured by income, education, and home ownership—are generally better prepared than their less well-off counterparts (NRC, 2006).

Successful resilience-focused collaboration includes strategies to encourage organizations to develop established processes for recognizing threats and evaluating risk. That encouragement is a fight against cultural momentum. Businesses and other private-sector organizations are influenced by inaccurate and incomplete perceptions of risk and therefore might not provide the resources to mitigate risks or recognize the potential value of collaboration. The concept of enterprise risk management (ERM) has taken hold to some degree in the private sector, where it helps some firms assess their risks on an organization-wide basis, set priorities among risks, and develop consistent, comprehensive approaches to risk management.1 However, ERM is not widely practiced in the private sector and is even less prevalent in the public sector.


Local, regional, and national collaborative efforts are not effectively linked or harmonized. That can present a challenge to people engaged in community-based private–public collaboration as they try to identify and leverage community resources and plan implementation strategies. A mismatch exists between the scales on which many organizations operate and the scales on which resilience-enhancing actions need to be taken, sometimes making it difficult to sustain collaboration like that described in this report. Some businesses and nongovernment organizations collaborate with DHS at the national level but do not participate in local collaborative efforts in the communities where they have a physical presence. It may be difficult for a large corporation such as a national-scale retail chain to engage locally with the full fabric of the community on an ongoing basis, to collaborate nationally with DHS and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) policy makers and planners and to coordinate with other businesses on crisis supply-chain issues. Other businesses may be very active locally but are not part of regional or national collaborative


For example, see the Casualty Actuarial Society Web site (; accessed June 18, 2010) for more information on ERM.

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