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Business recovery from disasters: Lessons from natural hazards and the COVID-19 pandemic
This paper compares economic recovery in the COVID-19 pandemic with other types of disasters, at the scale of businesses. As countries around the world struggle to emerge from the pandemic, studies of business impact and recovery have proliferated; however, pandemic research is often undertaken without the benefit of insights from long-standing research on past large-scale disruptive events, such as floods, storms, and earthquakes. This paper builds synergies between established knowledge on business recovery in disasters and emerging insights from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The paper examined the extent to which long-established findings about business recovery, deriving from studies of disasters triggered by natural hazards, hold for the COVID-19 pandemic. It found that the factors, moderators, and mechanisms of business recovery in the pandemic broadly resonated with those of natural hazard events. Recovery tends to be more difficult for small businesses, those vulnerable to supply chain problems, those facing disrupted markets, and locally-oriented businesses in heavily impacted neighborhoods. Disaster assistance that is fast and less restrictive provides more effective support for business recovery.