Seeds of Disaster, Roots of Response: How Private Action Can Reduce Public Vulnerability

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In the wake of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, executives and policymakers are motivated than ever to reduce the vulnerability of social and economic systems to disasters. Most prior work on “critical infrastructure protection” has focused on the responsibilities and actions of government rather than on those of the private sector firms that provide most vital services. Seeds of Disaster, Roots of Response is the first systematic attempt to understand how private decisions and operations affect public vulnerability. It describes effective and sustainable approaches — both business strategies and public policies — to ensure provision of critical services in the event of disaster. The authors are business leaders from multiple industries and experts in fields as diverse as risk analysis, economics, engineering, organization theory and public policy. The book shows the necessity of deeply rooted collaboration between private and public institutions, and the accountability and leadership required to go from words to action.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“With 85% of America's critical infrastructure in private hands, the American people - and America's economy - are not going to be safe without strong, collaborative action by the public and private sector. Seeds of Disaster, Roots of Response is thus a timely and important volume that is a must-read for anyone concerned about our nation's security.”
Lee Hamilton, President, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Vice Chair, 9/11 Commission.

“Industries that provide critical infrastructure are becoming more efficient, but more vulnerable. This book introduces "security externalities", a phenomenon that inhibits private investments that would make critical infrastructure services more resilient to potential disaster from anysource. It calls not only for more leadership but for more realistic policies from both the private and the public sector.”
Prof. Thomas C. Schelling, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland and 2005 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics

“This visionary book reveals the vulnerability of our systems which provide the framework for humanity to exist. The response to this millennium challenge can only be found in our capacity to demonstrate innovative collaboration, effective leadership, and courage. I strongly urge top decision makers to read this book; it provides the necessary guidance to go from words to action.”
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman,World Economic Forum

“This important book calls for a public-private national infrastructure protection plan to replace the current disorganized and dysfunctional response to catastrophic threats from terrorism, natural disasters and gargantuan operational errors. It asks the hard questions about how government and business can define and finance respective roles and stop the Alphonse and Gaston routine which makes disasters even more disastrous.”
Ben W. Heineman, Jr. Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government Former Senior Vice President and General Counsel of GE

"America must work hard to improve its responses to natural disasters and terror attacks. This book demonstrates that effective coordination with the operators of privately owned critical infrastructure is a vital part of that work, and offers guidance for progress."
U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine, Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521857963
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip E. Auerswald, PhD (editor) is Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy and an Assistant Professor at the School of Public Policy, George Mason University. Professor Auerswald's work focuses on linked processes of technological and organizational change in the contexts of policy, economics, and strategy. He is the founding co-editor of Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, a quarterly journal from MIT Press about people using technology to address global challenges. He was previously a Research Fellow and Assistant Director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. His published work has addressed entrepreneurial finance, organizational learning, industry dynamics, and innovation policy. He has been a consultant for the National Academies of Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Washington and a BA (political science) from Yale University.

Lewis M. Branscomb, PhD is Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management, emeritus, at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He also holds faculty appointments at the University of California San Diego. Branscomb was the co-chairman of the project of the National Academies of Science and of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, which authored the 2002 report Making the Nation Safer: Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism.

Todd M. La Porte, PhD is an associate professor at George Mason University. He was a member of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. He also served for six years as an analyst in the information technology and the international security programs at the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), a research office of the U.S. Congress.

Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan, PhD is Managing Director of the Center for Risk Management and Decision Processes at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. His work focuses on financing extreme events, with a prime interest in the creation and implementation of private-public collaboration among top decision makers of organizations, or countries, in America and in Europe. He is a member of the Global Risk Network of the World Economic Forum.

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Table of Contents

Foreword General Robert T. Marsh; Part I. Seeds of Disaster: 1. Where private efficiency meets public vulnerability: the critical infrastructure challenge Philip Auerswald, Lewis M. Branscomb, Todd M. La Porte and Erwann Michel-Kerjan; Part II. A Critical Challenge: 2. A nation forewarned: vulnerability of critical infrastructure in the twenty-first century Lewis M. Branscomb; 3. The brittle superpower Stephen E. Flynn; 4. Critical infrastructure protection in the United States since 1993 Brian Lopez; 5. Evolution of vulnerability assessment methods Brian Lopez; Part III. Managing Organizations: 6. Managing for the unexpected: reliability and organizational resilience Todd M. La Porte; 7. Notes toward a theory of the management of vulnerability Robert A. Frosch; 8. Challenges of assuring high reliability when facing suicidal terrorism Todd M. La Porte; 9. Managing for reliability in an age of terrorism Paul R. Schulman and Emery Roe; 10. Organizational strategies for complex system resilience, reliability, and adaptation Todd M. La Porte; Part IV. Securing Networks: 11. Complexity and interdependence: the unmanaged challenge Philip Auerswald; 12. Managing reliability in electric power companies Jack Feinstein; 13. Coordinated and uncoordinated crisis responses by the electric industry Michael Kormos and Thomas Bowe; 14. Electricity: protecting essential services Jay Apt, M. Granger Morgan and Lester B. Lave; 15. A cyber threat to national security? Sean P. Gorman; 16. Interdependent security in interconnected networks Geoffrey Heal, Michael Kearns, Paul Kleindorfer and Howard Kunreuther; Part V. Creating Markets: 17. Insurance, the 14th critical sector Erwann Michel-Kerjan; 18. Private risk management for terrorist attacks Lloyd Dixon and Robert Reville; 19. Terrorism, insurance, and preparedness: connecting the dots James W. Macdonald; 20. Looking beyond TRIA: a clinical examination of potential terrorism loss sharing Howard Kunreuther and Erwann Michel-Kerjan; 21. Financing catastrophe risk with public and private (re)insurance resources Franklin W. Nutter; Part VI. Building Trust: 22. Private-public collaboration on a national and international scale Lewis M. Branscomb and Erwann Michel-Kerjan; 23. Information sharing with the private sector: history, challenges, innovation, and prospects Daniel B. Prieto; 24. Sharing the watch: public-private collaboration for infrastructure security John D. Donahue and Richard J. Zeckhauser; 25. The Paris initiative, 'anthrax and beyond': transnational collaboration among interdependent critical networks Patrick Lagadec and Erwann Michel-Kerjan; Part VII. Roots of Response: 26. Leadership: who will act? Philip Auerswald, Lewis M. Branscomb, Todd M. La Porte and Erwann Michel-Kerjan.

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