, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 2353-2374
Date: 18 Nov 2012

Small-business demise and recovery after Katrina: rate of survival and demise

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Abstract

Post-disaster research is often plagued by displacement of subjects, loss of infrastructure, and the disruption of communication. Economic losses and business disruptions caused by a disaster tend to affect small businesses on a greater scale. With the majority of small businesses being operated out of a home, the inability to recover affects both economic and overall well-being of the business and the family. Specifically for small businesses, post-disaster research is important because it leads to increased preparedness and survival strategies for the sector and reduced economic vulnerabilities in owner-controlled areas. Historically, most of what is known about preparation, response, and recovery of small businesses from natural disasters is based on businesses that have recovered. However, there exists a need for understanding recovery also from the perspective of those that tried, but failed to recover. Grounded in a pragmatic approach, this study presents a methodology for tracking demised small businesses after Hurricane Katrina. Supported by empirical evidence, solutions to the problems of timing, generalizability, and access are presented, providing a systematic methodology for successfully studying small businesses after a disaster event. Rate of survival and demise data are presented, providing more useful numbers than prior estimates. Locating demised and recovered small businesses efficiently is the first step in understanding how business owners prepare, react, adjust, and strive to recover from disaster-driven events. A solution to this challenging issue of access makes the study of demised small businesses possible.

Wiatt, Jones and Hall-Phillips are former Purdue graduate students who have participated in this project and the development of this paper.