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Organized Uncertainty: Designing a World of Risk Management Paperback – January 15, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199548803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199548804
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


`Review from previous edition Michael Power's description and analysis of the rise of the risk management movement is striking and impressive. Arising worldwide, in the current neo-liberal period, the movement demands great managerial expansion. Organizations everywhere are now to track and manage all sorts of uncertainties - external, internal and in their own operations - as risks to be calculated. Most innovatively, Power shows that the core cultural pressures are less to reduce risks than to demonstrate accountability for them. Thus the reputable organization, as an effective actor, must show that it has proper risk management processes, not that these reduce risks.' John Meyer, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University

`Power's The Audit Society influentially challenged the concerns and fetishes of the 1990s. His fine new book will likewise provoke intense debate on how the societies of the new century conceive and manage risk.' Donald MacKenzie, Professor of Sociology, University of Edinburgh; author of An Engine, Not A Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets

`Power provides a fascinating and important insight into the emergent world of risk management. Organized Uncertainty analyses the origins and function of new designs for practice, and probes below the surface of a risk management 'explosion' to provide a challenging and, at times, disturbing account of its role in shaping new forms of managerial and regulatory accountability.' Anthony Hopwood, Formerly Dean of the Said Business School, University of Oxford

About the Author

Michael Power is Professor of Accounting and Research Theme Director of the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and an Associate member of the UK Chartered Institute of Taxation. He is a former Visiting Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin and at All Souls College, Oxford His publications include The Audit Society (Oxford, 1997) and The Risk Management of Everything (Demos, 2004) He is also co-editor of Organizational Encounters with Risk (Cambridge, 2005)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Glenn A. Carleton on December 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an important book, the likes of which I have not seen before. My take-away is that there is a need in the business world to create an illusion that their risk management practices in place are sound and follow best practices, thus good risk governance exists (stakeholders are demanding this be demonstrated). That illusion once created allows the organization to go about their business with no ongoing pressure to further demonstrate they are deploying risk management practices (i.e., they are compliant). As opposed to the core principles for how to improve on existing risk management inherently manages company risks better (i.e., enterprise risk management). In fact, approaches to risk management to date can actually increase or create risks per this book. Because companies have for years been considering risks in the process of managing the business, the very recent effort to evolve risk management into a profession could be said to be coming from those who profit from offering risk management consulting services, the benefits of which are highly suspect, except again to be able to demonstrate practices are in place for compliance. Regulators get sucked up into the myth by themselves internally adopting the same risk frameworks they are evaluating in firms they regulate, and thus the risk framework becomes so embedded into the overall mindset, it is just assumed these best practices offer value.

My take away is that the nature of risk is such that the very recent labeling risk management as a profession is a myth with motives that are self-serving. The book goes into detail why risk management practices do not do what they purport to do, why risks cannot be managed like other disciplines can in management.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book has a useful part and a part whose use eludes me. I enjoyed Michael Power's history of how what used to be called risk analysis has been transmogrified, step-by-step, into risk management. However, the author also seems to not trust the basic goodness of ideas and feels the need to dress them up into academic jargon and neologisms and the oddest kind. Have you ever heard of or used the words scientificity or scientization? I didn't think so. I haven't either. And I am not a big fan of the European need to solve any and every problem with more regulation, bureaucracy, and experts to help you do without having to think or create.

Still, I think the author does identify a central issue quite well and the current global economic meltdown seems to make Professor Powers a bit of a prophet.

While the language of the book is too dense for the general reader, any businessperson who is interested in these topics should muscle their way through it whether or not you end up agreeing with the author's prescriptions.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Power takes an academic look at how risk analysis has become risk management since the 1990s and how the present demand for greater business accountability is turning risk management into risk governance. The ideas in the book are solid, and not as opaque as Power's academic argot ("managerialization," "scientificity," "scientization") may make them seem. Constant explanations of detailed studies and risk models become somewhat complex for the general reader, but getAbstract recommends this informed and informative analysis to risk management professionals and professors who will appreciate Power's depth of knowledge.
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