Understanding small business adaptation to natural hazards : a critical review

Harries, Tim (2021) Understanding small business adaptation to natural hazards : a critical review. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 63, p. 102403. ISSN (print) 2212-4209


Research into small business adaptation to natural hazards is immature and poorly focussed, with too much emphasis on capacity factors and too little focus on the motivators of adaptation. More theorisation and use of models would help avoid such omissions in future. There is firm evidence for the importance of some predictors: relevant skills; perceptions of response costs; building tenure; owner education; business sector, and business size. More qualitative and quantitative exploration is now needed to identify the factors that mediate these predictors and to establish the reasons for the inconsistent findings on the influence of hazard experience. Furthermore, evidence on the importance of other potentially important predictors is partial and fragmented – for example, social norms, social prompting and the concentration of clients in the area affected by a hazard event. More research also needs to be conducted in the Global South, where natural hazards have the greatest impact and the socio-cultural environment differs to that elsewhere. Given the importance of small businesses for economic development, equity of opportunity and the resilience of the wider community, it is important for these lacunae to be addressed.

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