AC412      Half Unit
Accountability, Organisations and Risk Management

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Mike Power KSW 3.12 and Dr Tommaso Palermo KSW 3.07


This course is available on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPhil/PhD in Accounting, MSc in Accounting and Finance, MSc in Economy, Risk and Society , MSc in Law and Accounting, MSc in Management, MSc in Management and Regulation of Risk, MSc in Management, Organisations and Governance, MSc in Public Management and Governance, MSc in Public Policy and Administration and MSc in Risk and Finance. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Other students may be admitted only with the agreement, in writing, of the MSc (Accounting) Course Tutor.

Course content

This is an advanced course focusing on the organisational and institutional settings within which risk is managed.

The first five lectures deal with key issues in organisational responses to risk and uncertainty, including the impact of disasters and accidents and the growing formalisation and standardisation of risk management practice. The second five lectures explore the intersections of risk and corporate governance, by focusing on the risks that arise at top management and board of directors level, including lack of external oversight, executive pay issues, board interlocks, and strategic irreversibility. The overall purpose of the course is to provide students with a critical appreciation of the management of risk as an organisational and social process. The course is necessarily cross-disciplinary, drawing on scholarship within accounting, organisational sociology and regulation studies.


20 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

In week 6 there will be a reading and feedback week, including a writing workshop.

Formative coursework

Two pieces of written work will be assessed during the term but the grades will not count towards the overall course assessment.

Indicative reading

No single book covers the entire course. Key readings include: Bebchuk & Fried, Pay Without Performance (Harvard, 2004); Coffee, Gatekeepers: The Professions and Corporate Governance (Oxford, 2006); Hutter & Power (eds) Organizational Encounters with Risk, (Cambridge, 2005); Power, Organized Uncertainty: Designing a World of Risk Management (Oxford, 2007); Turner & Pidgeon, Man-Made Disasters, (Butterworth/Heinemann, 1997); Vaughan, The Challenger Launch Decision, (Chicago, 1997); Short & Clarke (eds) Organizations, Uncertainties and Risks (Westview, 1992); Weick & Sutcliffe, Managing the Unexpected: Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity (Jossey-Bass, 2007).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 14.5
Merit 37.7
Pass 39.6
Fail 8.2

Key facts

Department: Accounting

Total students 2014/15: 82

Average class size 2014/15: 21

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills