The threat of a crisis remains one of the top concerns keeping business decision-makers up at night, according to research from Burson-Marsteller. However, while three-quarters of business decision makers believe a crisis plan would benefit their company, only 51 percent of companies have one.

The research, undertaken by Penn Schoen Berland, also showed that of those with a plan only one in three is confident that it would be satisfactory in the event of a crisis.

Key barriers to developing a plan, cited by business leaders, were: it’s not enough of a priority (33 percent), it’s rarely going to be needed (31 percent), it’s expensive (25 percent), it would take too much time to plan (18 percent) and 24 percent simply said their business doesn’t need a plan.

“Remarkably, half of business decision makers remain unwilling to invest the time and commitment into developing a proper crisis plan, in spite of evidence that those companies who reported having experienced a crisis, and had a plan, recovered faster than those without one,” says Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East & Africa. “A strong corporate purpose is also critical to communicating during a crisis and assists reputational recovery afterwards.”

Interestingly the percentage of companies saying the rise of digital communications has increased their company’s vulnerability to crisis has dropped from 55 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2013. The firm says digital is “now the new normal and that although business leaders appreciate the challenges it poses, in terms of the capacity for a story to quickly be shared and the need for an increased speed of response, this is now seen as just another part of the communications terrain that has to be navigated.”

For the first time the survey probed the views of business decision makers on the importance of leadership in a crisis. Views on the most effective leadership style in a crisis split 50:50 between “command and control” and “collaboration.”  When asked about which specific qualities a leader needs to get the best out of a crisis management team, respondents favored those associated with a command and control style saying leaders should be good decision-makers, accountable and hold a clear vision.