Security Perspectives Surveyed

By Karen Lund Petersen

The key explanation for this growing interest in intelligence information is the increasingly unpredictable risk environment. Without solid intelligence, as a COO of a port authority explains, “You will be all over the place…and you will be spending precious resources” that could be better used elsewhere. Intelligence is understood as absolutely central to the ability to carry out corporate risk analyses and emergency planning in a complex and unpredictable risk environment.


Despite the strong similarity in the corporate security approaches across nations, the survey revealed a divergence in the corporate perception of responsibility for counterterrorism. In the survey, the corporate security managers were asked to what extent they agreed that “counterterrorism is a government task and private companies should only be involved insofar as there is a threat affecting their business.” In the United States, only 15 percent agreed with the statement while 85 percent disagreed.

A similar pattern can be observed in the United Kingdom, where 27 percent agree and 67 percent disagree. (Six percent of respondents chose the “not sure” option.) This stands in sharp contrast to Danish and Swedish companies where 48 percent and 57 percent, respectively, agreed that terrorism is a government task.

Two factors can help to explain these distinctions between the United States and the United Kingdom on the one side and Denmark and Sweden on the other. One has to do with the differences in the government’s level of engagement with companies on issues of national security. Another possible reason is found in the different historical national approaches to the relation between civil society and the state.

Engagement. One must expect that the closer the ties are between companies and national security agencies, the easier it would be to mobilize companies and give them responsibility for counterterrorism. The survey shows that contact between federal intelligence agencies and private companies occurs with varying frequency from country to country, yet there seems to be no correlation between the frequency of contact and the attitude toward the corporate role in counterterrorism. Contact between companies and intelligence agencies is rather frequent in Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It is rarer in Denmark.



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