In the survey, 49 percent of those from Swedish companies responded that they are in contact with the Swedish Security Service, Säpo, more than once each month. In the United Kingdom, 65 percent say that they are in contact with MI5, and in the United States, 67 percent indicated that they are in contact with the Department of Homeland Security. In Denmark, however, only 18 percent said that their companies are in contact with the Danish Security Intelligence more than once a month.
These differences in the level of contact between national security agencies and companies most probably have to do with the varying number of public-private partnerships in the countries. In the United States, the number of partnership programs is high and formalized compared to Europe.
Societal issues. Another explanation for the findings on the responsibility towards counterterrorism can be found in the historical role of the state in these different countries. The fact that companies in Denmark and Sweden tend to view counterterrorism as a state matter may have been expected, as the state in these countries historically has been seen as much stronger than in some other societies.
Counterterrorism is a high priority among corporate security managers, and it seems beyond doubt that collaboration with public-security agents is important. What this survey has shown us, however, is that government strategies of engaging private companies have had different resonance in the business communities of various countries and that companies around the world understand their responsibility differently.
Karen Lund Petersen is associate professor for the Centre for Advanced Security Theory at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.