Incorporating Enterprise Risk Management into the Curriculum: The Delta Air Lines Case Study

By Nyce, Charles | Risk Management and Insurance Review, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Incorporating Enterprise Risk Management into the Curriculum: The Delta Air Lines Case Study


Nyce, Charles, Risk Management and Insurance Review


EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS

ABSTRACT

This article describes a group project that was designed and implemented in an MBA-level corporate risk management class. The primary objective of this project is to integrate the concepts of enterprise risk management into the graduate-level risk management and insurance curriculum. This project combines both traditional and innovative risk management techniques into one semester-long group case study. The Delta Air Lines case study was divided into three segments to focus on three distinct objectives. The first component, identification of Delta's horizon risks, is designed to spur creative thinking among the groups. The second component, analysis of workers' compensation claims, is a very traditional risk management exercise in risk evaluation designed to utilize traditional statistical analysis techniques (specifically, trending). The third component is estimating both total loss distributions and layers of loss due to airline crashes for potential capital market risk financing alternatives. This component involves more innovative financial risk management techniques (i.e., distribution fitting and simulation analysis). The objective is to familiarize students with the current techniques being used to evaluate risks that are currently (or potentially) being securitized in the capital markets.

INTRODUCTION

This case study was designed as an integral part of an MBA-level corporate risk management class and has been a great learning experience for both the students and myself. It is a project that I plan to continue to incorporate in the MBA curriculum, and it has served as a starting point for integrating enterprise risk across various disciplines within the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. The innovations that this case study brings to the classroom are all designed to attain the ultimate objective of incorporating enterprise risk management in the curriculum.

This project combines both traditional and innovative risk management techniques into one semester-long group case study. The Delta Air Lines case study was divided into three segments to focus on three distinct objectives. Dividing the project into three distinct components also spreads the workload of the students throughout the semester, and it enables the professor to associate with the project the various risk management lecture topics relevant to the case study throughout the semester. The project components' due dates were decided by determining the order of the components in the risk management process and the amount of lecture time necessary to prepare the students for each component.

THE PROJECT

The first component, identification of Delta's horizon risks, is designed to spur creative thinking among the groups. The horizon risk component was due first because it required the least amount of lecture time to prepare the students to research and identify the risks. Horizon risks were defined as the risks that should concern Delta over a three- to five-year period. As noted in the project guidelines distributed to the students (see "Enterprise Risk Management Project Guidelines" below), the risks may be current risks that will continue to exist in the future or risks that may develop in the near future. Students were encouraged to reference annual reports (available at http://www.delta.com/inside/investors/index.jsp), airline industry publications (such as http://www.aviationnow.com), news sources (both local and national newspapers), supplier information (such as http://www.boeing.com and http://www.bombardier.com), and government sources (such as http://www.faa.gov).

The second component, analysis of workers' compensation claims, is a very traditional risk management exercise in risk evaluation designed to utilize traditional statistical analysis techniques (specifically, trending). Delta provided four years of proprietary workers' compensation data (from 1997 through 2000). …

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