What the Swine Flu Could Mean for Business

Last Updated Apr 27, 2009 3:12 PM EDT

If you thought the swine flu in Mexico wasn't going to touch your business, you received a rude wake up call today from this headline in the NYT: Europe Urges Citizens to Avoid U.S. and Mexico Travel.

That's not the news U.S. hospitality and tourism industries need to hear with the summer travel season just around corner. This new virus, if it expands, is likely to have all kinds of similar unwelcome effects on business. Are you prepared?

Harvard Business Review has just re-released its 2006 report Preparing for a Pandemic (written at the time of the avian flu), which is chock-a-block full of useful advice for thinking about and preparing for the worst.

Articles in the collection include:

A New Type of Threat: Preparing for the Disruption of Global Business Preparedness: Pandemic Planning Checklist for Businesses Modeling: Visualizing Your Vulnerabilities
As HBR puts it, the swine flu "may be relatively mild and quickly contained -- or it could explode into a deadly pandemic that closes borders, severs supply chains, shuts down businesses and kills thousands... Companies need to be sure they have plans in place for the worst case."

That's not alarmism, just good business planning.

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.