The Construction of Risk Management Credibility within Corporate Boardrooms
Gendron, Y., Brivot, M., and Guénin-Paracini, H. The construction of risk management credibility within corporate boardrooms. European Accounting Review. Forthcoming
33 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 15, 2015
Despite various corporate collapses over the last decades, risk management is increasingly influential across organizations worldwide, as if the apparatus’ credibility was impermeable to scandals that, from critical angles, cast doubt on its efficacy. Relying on a cultural perspective of analysis highlighting the range of social processes that protect prevailing institutions’ legitimacy from aberrations, we examined the sense-making approaches employed by corporate boardroom actors to maintain their confidence in the credibility of the risk management apparatus despite being exposed to a continuous flow of corporate failures pointing to risk management efficacy limitations. Specifically, we conducted 35 interviews with corporate board stakeholders, mostly board members and corporate consultants. Our analysis indicates that actors involved in risk management processes tend to interpret aberration cases through perspectives that put the blame on some implementation deficiency, thereby ensuring that risk management’s core assumptions are not questioned. These perspectives point to a defensive system of thought grounded in the director and consultancy communities, whose main referents are subject to intense work and re-conceptualization in the aftermath of aberrations, thereby providing community members with the means to make sense of the frictions of organizational life in ways that maintain the legitimacy of the risk management apparatus.
Keywords: construction of legitimacy, purity boundaries, risk management, sense-making
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