Businesses' Role in National Security

By Karen Lund Petersen (Print Edition)

National security is no longer solely about defending the borders; it now includes making society resilient in the face of a wide range of threats. Although governments around the world stress the importance of private sector responsibility and engagement in national security, a survey conducted by the author shows that private companies themselves conceptualize their responsibility differently depending on their nationality.

The findings are presented in Survey on Corporate Security Thinking, which describes the security practices of more than 200 of the world’s largest companies, their practice of security management, and the nature of their collaboration with national security agencies.

The survey covers some of the largest U.S., U.K., Danish, and Swedish companies. In the United States, 87 security directors representing Fortune 500 companies responded to the survey. In Denmark, 51 directors responded, and 34 responded in both Sweden and in the United Kingdom.

The survey shows not only surprisingly strong national differences in the understanding of the role of the state versus that of the company in the current policy on counterterrorism but also very similar corporate attitudes to professionalization and new trends in corporate security priorities. The different national experiences with political violence, such as terrorism, do not seem to affect the security priorities of companies.

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