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<em>Seeds of Disaster, Roots of Response: How Private Action Can Reduce Public Vulnerability</em>

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

Book, Cambridge University Press

September 2006

Authors: Lewis M. Branscomb, Director Emeritus of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program; Aetna Public Service Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Corporate Management, Philip Auerswald, Former Associate, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program (STPP), 2003–2014; Former Assistant Director, STPP, 2002–2003, Todd M. La Porte, Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan

Ordering Information for this publication

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Science, Technology, and Public Policy


In the wake of 9/11 and hurricane Katrina, executives and policymakers are increasingly motivated 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 are experts in 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 progress from words to action.

• Contains contributions from world leading experts, introduces new concepts, and addresses a strategy and policy issue of urgent concern
• Offers a balance of perspectives from industry managers and academics;
• Makes novel cross-disciplinary connections, drawing insights from the published literature in economics, law, organizational studies, etc.

Edited by Philip Auerswald
George Mason University, Virginia

Lewis M. Branscomb
Harvard University, Massachusetts

Todd M. La Porte
George Mason University, Virginia

Erwann Michel-Kerjan
University of Pennsylvania

Related publications by contributing authors:

"The Challenge of Protecting Critical Infrastructure", Issues in Science and Technology (Fall 2005) by Philip Auerswald, Lewis M. Branscomb, Todd M. LaPorte, and Erwann Michel-Kerjan

"Ensuring (and Insuring?) Critical Information Infrastructure Protection" (.pdf), Faculty Research Working Paper Series (October 2005) by Kenneth Neil Cukier, Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, and Lewis M. Branscomb

"Capitalizing on the Private Sector to Protect the Homeland", Washington Post op-ed (April 28, 2006) by Stephen E. Flynn and Daniel B. Prieto  



For more information about this publication please contact the STPP Web Manager at 617-496-1981.

For Academic Citation:

Auerswald, Philip, Lewis M. Branscomb, Todd M. La Porte, and Erwann Michel-Kerjan, eds. Seeds of Disaster, Roots of Response: How Private Action Can Reduce Public Vulnerability. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, September 2006.

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