Who Reads What Most Often? A Survey of Enterprise Risk Management Literature Read by Risk Executives

By Fraser, John R. S.; Schoening-Thiessen, Karen et al. | Journal of Applied Finance, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Who Reads What Most Often? A Survey of Enterprise Risk Management Literature Read by Risk Executives


Fraser, John R. S., Schoening-Thiessen, Karen, Simkins, Betty J., Journal of Applied Finance


This study provides the results of a survey on the most important risk literature read by executives working in the area of enterprise risk management, and it highlights excellent opportunities for academics to closely collaborate with practitioners to conduct research in these key areas of need. We discuss problems and challenges risk executives have encountered that were not addressed in the literature. Overall, the key findings of our survey are as follows: First, surprisingly, COSO (Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission) was not considered a key source of information and guidance. Second, major challenges still remain for new implementers. Third, much more work is needed in the areas of research and case studies so that risk executives can learn from the experiences of others who have successfully implemented enterprise risk management. Fourth, many areas clearly remain to be explored and discussed before a common understanding or methodology for enterprise risk management could be considered to be in place; and fifth, we find that experienced risk executives are not only much more familiar with the literature, but they also find publications about 'risk in general' very useful at early and advanced stages of enterprise risk management implementation.

I. Introduction

* Enterprise risk management (ERM) is an important discipline that is gaining popularity and recognition, both as a governance best practice and as "just good management". More and more risk executives in related roles are getting involved or are being assigned the challenging task to implement ERM.

So, what exactly is meant by "enterprise risk management"? Enterprise risk management has been defined by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) as: "...aprocess, effected by an entity's board of directors, management and other personnel, applied in strategy setting and across the enterprise, designed to identify potential events that may affect the entity, and manage risk to be within its risk appetite, to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of entity objectives. "'

The first question many beginners ask, as well as those further down the path, is: "What available research can I read to learn about this methodology or to increase my knowledge base?" There is general consensus that research and learning from others can shorten the learning curve and help avoid expensive mistakes or even the risk of failure in any project or change management initiative. Academics are entering this new field as well from a documentation and research perspective and are finding that unlike most other disciplines, there is very little already written that they can use as reference material. While a number of recent surveys have been conducted on ERM, to our knowledge no study has explored the literature that risk executives are reading nor examined the perceptions of available literature.2

This paper provides the results of a survey conducted during the Fall of 2007 by The Conference Board of Canada (CBoC)3 to the member organizations of its Strategic Risk Council (SRC).4 The survey served two purposes: to determine how useful risk executives find published literature about enterprise risk management and to uncover weaknesses and needs in the current resources available on this critical topic. More specifically, we investigated what leading ERM practitioners used for their research materials with a view to answering a number of research objectives such as:

1. determining ERM tools and techniques most frequently used by respondents;

2. identifying the most widely read and highly evaluated materials in the eyes of ERM practitioners;

3. assessing whether there were potential gaps in knowledge due to the unavailability of sources of reference material (e.g. such as this paper); and

4. investigating correlations between the experience of ERM practitioners or their organizations and the extent and types of research materials used. …

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