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The risk management of nothing


  • Power, Michael


This essay challenges core elements of enterprise risk management (ERM) and suggests that an impoverished conception of 'risk appetite' is part of the 'intellectual failure' at the heart of the financial crisis. Regulators, senior management and boards must understand risk appetite more as the consequence of a dynamic organizational process involving values as much as metrics. In addition, ERM has operated as a boundary preserving model of risk management subject to the 'logic of the audit trail', rather than a boundary challenging practice which confronts and addresses the complex realities of interconnectedness. The security provided by ERM is at best limited to certain states of the world and at worst it is illusory - the risk management of nothing. In contrast, Business continuity management (BCM) may provide clues about how risk management might be reconstructed.

Suggested Citation

  • Power, Michael, 2009. "The risk management of nothing," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(6-7), pages 849-855, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:34:y:2009:i:6-7:p:849-855

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Whitley, Richard, 1986. "The transformation of business finance into financial economics: The roles of academic expansion and changes in U.S. capital markets," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 171-192, March.
    2. Pentland, Brian T., 1993. "Getting comfortable with the numbers: Auditing and the micro-production of macro-order," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 18(7-8), pages 605-620.
    3. James G. March & Zur Shapira, 1987. "Managerial Perspectives on Risk and Risk Taking," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 33(11), pages 1404-1418, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guénin-Paracini, Henri & Malsch, Bertrand & Paillé, Anne Marché, 2014. "Fear and risk in the audit process," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 264-288.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:3:p:640-:d:133962 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Jupe, Robert, 2012. "The privatization of British Energy: Risk transfer and the state," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 116-129.
    4. repec:eee:ijoais:v:19:y:2015:i:c:p:1-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Brian Shapiro & Michael Naughton, 2015. "The Expression of Espoused Humanizing Values in Organizational Practice: A Conceptual Framework and Case Study," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 65-81, January.
    6. repec:spr:reaccs:v:22:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11142-017-9403-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:bla:ecanth:v:4:y:2017:i:2:p:239-250 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:crpeac:v:43:y:2017:i:c:p:5-19 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:spr:reaccs:v:22:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11142-017-9396-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Nawrocki, Tomasz Leszek & Jonek-Kowalska, Izabela, 2016. "Assessing operational risk in coal mining enterprises – Internal, industrial and international perspectives," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 50-67.
    11. Anisoara Apetri & Camelia Mihalciuc & Oana Iuliana Mihai, 2015. "The Legal Framework For The Implementation Of Ifrs And Their Implications In The Banking System From Romania," Risk in Contemporary Economy, "Dunarea de Jos" University of Galati, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, pages 279-288.
    12. Arena, Marika & Arnaboldi, Michela & Azzone, Giovanni, 2010. "The organizational dynamics of Enterprise Risk Management," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 659-675, October.
    13. repec:bla:acctfi:v:56:y:2016:i:4:p:985-1015 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Samuel McPhilemy, 2013. "Formal Rules versus Informal Relationships: Prudential Banking Supervision at the FSA Before the Crash," New Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(5), pages 748-767, October.
    15. Power, Michael, 2013. "The apparatus of fraud risk," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 525-543.
    16. Mikes, Anette, 2011. "From counting risk to making risk count: Boundary-work in risk management," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 226-245.
    17. Aldegwy, Mohamed & Thiemann, Matthias, 2016. "How economics got it wrong: Formalism, equilibrium modelling and pseudo-optimization in banking regulatory studies," SAFE Working Paper Series 138, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    18. Emilia Klepczarek, 2016. "Disclosure of risk information in the European banking sector," International Economics, University of Lodz, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, issue 16, pages 350-366, December.
    19. repec:eee:ijoais:v:12:y:2011:i:4:p:280-304 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Angela Zeier Roeschmann, 2014. "Risk Culture: What It Is and How It Affects an Insurer's Risk Management," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 17(2), pages 277-296, September.
    21. O’Regan, Philip & Killian, Sheila, 2014. "‘Professionals who understand’: Expertise, public interest and societal risk governance," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 615-631.
    22. Williams, James W., 2013. "Regulatory technologies, risky subjects, and financial boundaries: Governing ‘fraud’ in the financial markets," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 544-558.
    23. Blome, Constantin & Schoenherr, Tobias, 2011. "Supply chain risk management in financial crises--A multiple case-study approach," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 43-57, November.
    24. Power, Michael & Ashby, Simon & Palermo, Tommaso, 2013. "Risk culture in financial organisations: a research report," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67978, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    25. Fischer, Michael Daniel & Ferlie, Ewan, 2013. "Resisting hybridisation between modes of clinical risk management: Contradiction, contest, and the production of intractable conflict," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 30-49.

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