The Importance of Managing Risk

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Introduction

A variety of academics have provided numerous definitions of risk, with some being centred around a specific business environment and others being a more generic definition of risk. A comprehensive risk definition that is tailored around the business environment can be defined as an event that will likely lead to substantial losses for an organisation, which could also be made more dangerous by the likelihood of the risk event occurring (Harland, et al., 2003). Furthermore, The English Oxford Dictionary defines risk as “A situation involving exposure to danger” or “The possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen”. (Oxford Dictionary, 2015) Kaplan and Garrick (1981, p. 12) provide a simple equation for risk, which is “risk = uncertainty + damage”. They believe that it is irrelevant as to what context risk exists in, and that the same equation can always be used to identify and manage risk. However, risk can still be categorised differently depending on what facet of the organisation it is affecting. For example, supply chain risk can be defined as “”the variation in the distribution of possible supply chain outcomes, their likelihood, and their subjective values” (March & Shapira, 1987, p. 1404). This is quite different to other, more generalised definitions of risk.

Risk Management

Before a risk management strategy can be decided upon, the risk event must first be identified. An organisation should conduct three steps before deciding on the best risk management strategy to use. As risk management can use a substantial amount of resources, clarification and direction should be decided upon before conducting risk management. The three factors are (Stanleigh, 2015);

  • Identification of the risk: The organisation should first review all of the possible risk sources. Furthermore, they could use a risk assessment tool to identify the risk event that may occur.
  • Assessment of the possible risk event: Once the organisation has identified the risk, they must assess the potential damage that the risk even could case. As previously stated, the severity of the risk is an extremely important factor for an organisation to consider, as it will help shape and design any relevant risk management strategies.
  • Develop an educated response to the risk event: After the risk has been successfully identified and assessed, the organisation can begin to decide what resources may be needed to limit or completely negate the potential risk event.

Once an organisation has identified any unexpected risk events that may occur, they must focus all their resources of deciding which risk event should be tackled first. Most organisations will have a limited amount of resources, and will only be able to tackle one of two risk events at a time. If a plethora of risk events are likely to occur, this means prioritising which ones to minimise. This means that companies have to assess the impact that a risk event can have on an organisations financial and market performance, and focus all their resources to eliminate the most dangerous risks first.

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