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CARR Research 2000-2005

CARR became an ESRC research centre on 1 October 2000, receiving funding for an initial 5-year period.

During this time our research was organised into two major programmes: 

Organisations and Risk Management: Programme 1

Encompassed managerial disciplines and sociology. Research projects focused primarily on organisations and their responses to risk, including their responses to various kinds of regulation.

Government, Regulation, and Governance: Programme 2

Spanned political science and law, and focused on the state and supra-state levels of regulation, non-state sources of regulatory activity, as well as the regulation of the state itself.

These programmes were linked by a number of common cross-cutting themes which will be developed further in the second five-year period.

The research was funded from a unique mix of sources.


Other CARR-Funded Research 2000-2005

Risk, Regulation and the 'Right to Know': Exploring the consequences of access to information on the management of complex environmental risks

Andrew Gouldson (CARR/Department of Geography and Environment, LSE) - Sponsored by BP

This project addresses the consequences of access to information for the management of complex environmental risks. The project examines stakeholder issues with reference to the complex environmental risks associated with the chemicals sector in the UK. It compares regulator-industry-stakeholder relations around major chemical complexes in England and Wales - where site-specific information on emissions is available online - with those surrounding similar complexes in Scotland, where access to such information is much more limited. The research finds that increased access to information has had a variety of impacts.

Although community groups at the local level commonly find it hard to access or to understand the information that is now available, national level pressure groups have used this information to develop more sophisticated and more influential campaigns. As their performance becomes more open to scrutiny, regulators and firms find it necessary to behave in ways that enhance rather than erode public confidence. In turn, this is leading to the emergence of new forms of engagement and to new spheres of influence.

Organisational Decision Support for the Management of Complex Risk (CRISP)

Jonathan Rosenhead (Operational Research, LSE) and Tom Horlick-Jones (Cardiff University) - Sponsored by BP

This project examines how problem-structuring methods (in conjunction with ethnographic methods) can be used to manage complex, ie, multi-source, risk in Railtrack (now part of Network Rail) and the Greater London Authority. Key findings support the role of problem-structuring methods in conflict situations, utilising mixed methods and improvisation to reveal unspoken working practices, and forms of practical reasoning about risk in organisations, in particular the micro-politics of blaming. A close examination of the often messy processes of everyday practical reasoning and sense-making that constitute risk-related practices reveals that risk issues are often 'about' matters quite distinct from the ostensible subject.

These insights raise important questions about the efficacy of orthodox approaches to decision support for organisational risk management. Many of these are reductionist in their (sometimes implicit) conception of the nature of risk. In conceptual terms, they place important limits on the scope of grand theorisations to capture the concrete detail of organisational risk-related practices. They point rather to the need for specific understanding to be rooted in investigations which are sensitive to a variety of interactional dimensions.

The CRISP project ended at the end of October, 2002. A concluding inter-disciplinary workshop is still to take place, and further analysis of the project data will continue.

Commercial Partnerships with Non-Governmental Organisations for Risk Management

Stephen Tully (CARR) - Sponsored by BP

Tully commenced his BP postdoctoral research into the prospects of civil regulation and co-operative partnerships between NGOs and corporations. The Energy and Biodiversity Initiative, a partnership between four corporations and five environmental organisations, has been selected as a case study. The initiative has as its objective formulating performance standards, identifying best corporate conservation practices in biodiversity sensitive areas, indicating appropriate investment site selection criteria and advocating the business case for biodiversity protection. Tully's project, which reflects CARR's broader interest in the impact of civil society organisations as regulators of corporations, will document the effectiveness and implications of the initiative.

Strategic Decision Making in Large Complex Organisations

Charles Baden-Fuller (Cass Business School, City University) - Sponsored by BP

Risk & Regulation article.

Risk Research Institute

The Institute was a unique partnership between PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Risk Management Solutions practice and the London School of Economics and Political Science to establish an international centre for research in risk management.

  • Strategic Decision-Making in Companies: two case studies
    Peter Abell, Geoffrey Owen and Virginie Vial (Interdisciplinary Institute of Management, LSE)

    This project analyses corporate performance and key strategic decision-making in two UK industries, food retailing and vehicle components. The project considers why some companies consistently make better decisions than others. Does sustained competitive advantage derive from distinctive managerial skill in assessing the risks and returns of particular strategies - or is luck the most important factor? The study tests the validity of some well-known theories of corporate strategy, including the positioning view and game-theoretic approaches.

  • Integration and Data Management: the duality of risk
    Claudio Ciborra (Information Systems Department, LSE)

    Large corporations are meeting the demands of globalisation and cost reduction by deploying massive information and communication infrastructures that are aimed at streamlining, centralising and integrating key information flows and databases. Though managing a fragmented business in the present era can be a high-risk endeavour, this research project aims to reveal the hidden risks of centralisation and integration that modern information infrastructures can generate as side effects.   

  • Risk Perceptions: an internet approach
    Frank Cowell (STICERD)

    This project uses V-Lab - the Virtual Laboratory launched last year by the Distributed Analysis Research Programme in STICERD. V-Lab is an internet tool for conducting questionnaire experiments, facilitating remote coordination by the research team in Europe and in Israel. The purpose of the questionnaires is to identify people's attitudes towards risk and uncertainty by using attitudinal questions in hypothetical settings.

CARR Outreach

CARR is playing a leading role in the UK and international research systems; establishing itself as national resource in 'risk regulation' research and developing links with regional and international centres of expertise. Our broad aim is to create exchange networks between CARR and relevant researchers elsewhere in the UK and abroad. More specifically, our objectives are as follows:

  • To host a programme of events with other UK and international risk regulation scholars, and thereby to develop the area and share ideas and information on 'risk and regulation' research

  • To establish a programme of visiting fellowships to provide risk regulation researchers with an opportunity to spend a period of time at CARR in London

  • To maintain a register for, and database of, interests in 'risk and regulation' research which is a national (and international) resource

  • To run an annual doctoral workshop for students in the 'risk regulation' area

CARR is committed to supporting young researchers and an important development has been the initiation of an annual doctoral workshop. The six held so far have formed a focal point for national and international developments in the emerging field of risk regulation studies.