Organized Uncertainty: Designing a World of Risk Management

Organized Uncertainty: Designing a World of Risk Management

Organized Uncertainty: Designing a World of Risk Management

Organized Uncertainty: Designing a World of Risk Management

Synopsis

Since the mid-1990s risk management has undergone a dramatic expansion in its reach and significance, being transformed from an aspect of management control to become a benchmark of good governance for banks, hospitals, schools, charities and many other organizations. Numerous standards for risk management practice have been produced by a variety of transnational organizations. While these many designs and blueprints are accompanied by ideals of enterprise, value production, and good governance, it is argued that the rise of risk management has also coincided with an intensification of auditing and control processes. The legalization and bureacratization of organizational life has increased because risk management has created new demands for proof and evidence of action. In turn, these demands have generated new risks to reputation.

In short, this important book traces the rise of the managerial concept of risk and the different logics and values which underpin it, showing that it has much less to do with real dangers and opportunities than might be thought, and more to do with organizational accountability and legitimacy.

Excerpt

Another book on risk is a risky venture for any author. There are simply so many of them. The shelves of bookshops bulge, library racks are full and the internet provides instant access to all manner of materials on risk—from practical handbooks of how to manage it to advanced treatises on how to calculate it, from scholarly debates on the ‘risk society’ to standards and norms issued by governmental and non-governmental bodies, from discussions of risk motivated by democratic values to prescriptions for adding value to organizational activity. Yet this explosion of risk discourse, and its potential to relegate this book to just one more drop in the ocean, is precisely my focus. Why has it happened and is there any pattern to this phenomenon? At the time of writing, I am a member of the Risk Committee of the London School of Economics and Political Science; I also chair the Risk Committee of a large public company. Such committees did not exist ten years ago. Now they have become a mandatory feature of organizational life. Why?

At one level the explanation is simple; risk committees for universities, hospitals, and many other organizations now exist because risk has increased. Yet, while this may be true in specific instances, it is not generally convincing for the phenomenon as a whole. How and why has risk become such a preeminent part of organizational and managerial language? What has allowed management practices of ver different kinds to be re-organized in the name of risk? The changing nature of dangers and opportunities in the world is, at best, only one part of the answer. As the title of this book suggests, risk and its management has become a lens through which a certain kind of rational organizational design can be envisioned. I argue that this process of re-envisioning organizations in terms of risk results from a number of different but related pressures for change which emerged in the mid-1990s and which continue to develop as I write this preface. These different pressures have elevated risk management from the technical, analytical roots established in the 1960s to the relatively new stage of organizational governance.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.