Exploring the conceptual foundation of continuity management in the context of societal safety

Published: Wednesday, 23 January 2019 09:08

In a recently published research paper Henrik Hassel and Alexander Cedergren discuss challenges that arise when applying business continuity management in the societal safety area. The authors are both from the Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety, Lund University, Sweden.


Public and private actors with critical roles for ensuring societal safety need to work proactively to reduce risks and vulnerabilities. Traditionally, risk management activities have often been performed in order to ensure continuous functioning of key societal services. Recently, however, business continuity management (BCM), and its analytical subcomponent business impact assessment (BIA), has been introduced and used more extensively by both the private and public sector in order to increase the robustness and resilience of critical infrastructures and societal functions and services. BCM was originally developed in the business sector but has received a broader use during the last decade. Yet, BCM/BIA has gained limited attention in the scientific literature—especially when it comes to clarifying and developing its conceptual basis. First, this article examines and discusses the conceptual foundation of BCM concepts, including practical challenges of applying the concepts. Based on recent conceptual developments from the field of risk management, a developed conceptualization is suggested. Second, the article discusses challenges that arise when applying BCM in the societal safety area and provides some recommendations aiming to improve the clarity and quality of applications. Third, the article provides suggestions of how to integrate the overlapping approaches of BIA and risk assessment in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness of proactive, analytic processes. We hope that the article can stimulate a critical discussion about the key concepts of BCM, their wider use in societal safety, and their connection to other concepts and activities such as risk assessment.

Read the paper.