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Practices and problems in the management of risk redisributions

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Risk Research
Issue number2
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)259-279
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The redistribution of risk across social groups is an important aspect of risk analysis. This article argues for a more general concept of risk redistribution across any significant categorisation, however, not just social groups. This includes the redistribution of risk across different kinds of harm, different kinds of failure mode and so on. These redistributions are connected by the way in which they all somehow threaten coping capacities that are adapted to specific past distributions: for example redistributions across failure modes threaten technological and organisational risk controls, whereas redistributions across social groups can threaten notions of fairness and social order. The purpose of the study described here was to investigate this general concept of risk redistribution as a managerial problem. It involved interviews with regulatory and consultancy staff, predominantly in offshore, maritime and railroad operations. These indicated that redistribution was a ubiquitous outcome of activity – and not one confined to discontinuous changes in technology or organisation. Yet, the management of this redistribution was not strongly institutionalised. It was mostly not embodied as an important concept in regulations, codes and procedures and it was not a product of risk assessment processes. But there was a considerable sensitivity to how both technological change and the practice of risk management itself produced redistributions, and extensive efforts were often made to deal with them in the informal domain.