Security and Risk Management. Selected Academic Essays

Anthology, 2014

80 Pages, Grade: 70%



Acknowledgements /

Introduction /

What are the main influences on the function of a security manager in the retail and aviation sectors? /

Is there such a thing as an unified theory of risk and does the academic literature account for such principle adequately? /

There has been a move away from risk as probability to risk as accountability and liability which place the emphasis upon the individual /

Business continuity management has evolved as a business function /

Critically discuss how corporate security management is evolving /

The introduction of more privatisation into public policing will bring lower standards and risk greater corruption /

Critically examine the appropriateness of the term ‘organised crime’ /

About the author /


As with any project of this nature there are too many people to thank and someone is always forgotten. Nevertheless, there are some who deserve particular mention. Firstly, I would like to thank Dr. Alison Wakefield and Prof. Mark Button for their teaching, patience and expertise. I am also grateful for the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies as a whole for having supported my learning during this five years long BSc degree. The staff of GRIN has also been central to achieving this project and they must also be thanked. Finally, I would to thank my wife Jurgita for her constant support and unconditional love.


Security is a very important issue. It is a matter of organisational continuity and collapse, a road either to perpetuity or to ruin. Hence, it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. Security, then, appears being governed by five constant factors: (1) study, (2) research, (3) discipline, (4) opportunity and (5) knowledge transfer.

Studying security causes the people to become closer from the Divine, to understand what security means and what it takes to secure something from something else. Researching signifies finding gaps in the security knowledge base so as to further develop matter in empty spaces. Discipline comprises self-control and perseverance, day and night, cold and hot, life and death. Opportunity stands for the capability to learn from security failures, from vulnerabilities and threats. Knowledge transfer is to be understood in terms of collective security and common good.

These five heads should be familiar to every security manager: he who knows them will do security; he who knows them not will fail.

In turn, it is with this security mindset that the reading may begin.

What are the main influences on the function of a security manager in the retail and aviation sectors?


Button (2008, p20) argues that the function of a security manager is to guarantee peace within the node. This 'security state' is based and rely on the elements of a complex security system (Rogers, 2006), adapting itself to new technologies and forms of crime (Clarke, 2004). In science, close to the one previously mentioned is the concept of state of stability, known as equilibrium, where the criterion for determining how a system will behave is the Gibbs condition. At nodal level and following Johnston and Shearing's concept (2003 cited by Button 2008, p20), a security system is composed of six elements: definition of order, authorities, technologies, mentalities, institutions and practices. Consequently, the system appears socio-technological and based upon human interaction. Therefore, the last attribute being involved, Moslow's pyramid of needs, Freud's iceberg model and Reason's model come immediately in mind, concept which, at some point, is shared by Manunta and Manunta (2006). As important is the Gibbs condition to the equilibrium is the security manager achievement to the node: stability and security. What are the main influences on the function of a security manager in the retail and aviation sectors is the main topic of this essay. However, before some of these discussions being considered, it is important to understand some fundamental concepts and issues such as what is meant by security and what are the main functions of its manager.

Emergence of a context and ubiquity

Close to the concept of equilibrium is the concept developed by Zedner Lucia (2003b), a professor of criminal justice at Oxford University. She explains the essence of security as being a state of being and a means to that end: a hypothetical state of absolute security and a state of being protected from, subject to an attribute, the non-exposure to danger. This concept of state of being was valued by Button (2008, p4) and present in Manunta's philosophy (1999). To be equilibrium requires the sine qua non Gibbs condition: a perfect system configuration. So too is the security state. Complicated as a whole, the task of converting a state to a state of security is, at nodal level, led by the security manager. Few questions might arise from this observation. Firstly, is it possible? Secondly, how can it be achieved? Then, what might influence the security manager in his quest?

Manunta and Manunta's (2006) concept is that a security state, in a real and human made world is so wide ranging to be impracticable or reached. Further explanations were given: a growing array of threat modifiers such as terrorism (Schneider, 2006), a complex environment with multiple threat axes (Stapley et al 2006) or the emergence of new technologies and forms of crime (Clarke, 2004). The tragic events of September 11, 2001, Bali in October 2002 and Jakarta in 2004 are notable examples. This concept was followed by Button (2008, p323) when explaining that at a nodal level, the security system has to deal with accidents or/and acts of Gods. Uncertainty and unpredictability are ubiquitous in our world and James Reason (2008) will certainly agree. Consequently, answering positively to the first question appears to be compromised. A subjective condition is emerging: security state as a mean of feeling safe.

Accepting this condition and attempting to convert a state to a state where people are feeling safe, security managers use different assembly of components such as security officers, devices, procedures, policies, frameworks or strategies. Their adequate and well balanced management appear to Button (2008) as essential. Bamfield (2006) and Gill (2006) seem to share the concept. Academics and researchers, on their paths leading to the un-known knowledge, develop new crime preventive concepts founded on empirical data analysis and simulations. Impressive works were made, notably by Clarke (2005), Gill (2006), Newburn (2007), Tilley (2009) or Button (2008) to cite but few. Studying random-ness and the physics of group motion was for Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher (1588-1679), a way in explaining human social behaviour. After a plethora of researches, he concluded that, contrary to certain living creatures such as bees or ants, human behaviour was influenced by complex desires and sensations, provoking them into conflict. For security managers, the understanding of this herding instinct among others attributes appears rational: achieving effectiveness by studying the patterns of any potential deviant act, like a mathematical model. The singularity is near. Quoted from John Donne, a British poet (1572-1631), 'no man is an island' seems adequate in answering to the second question. This principle was shared by Hayes (2005) while arguing that a successful security system implementation can not be single handed. Resulting from a consequential analysis, it appears that the influences on the function of a security manager are various, emerging from complex individual, psychological, social, authoritative, educational and technological flows of dependencies, referred by Mullins (2010, p901) as PESTEL (Political, Economic, Sociocultural, Technological, Environmental, Legal) and it will give us a possible answer to the third question.

Following the concepts of Shearing (2004, p6), we will agree that a node is a location of knowledge, capacity and resources that can be deployed to both authorise and provide governance. A corporation is therefore a node. Having introduced the context, this essay will now move on into analysing what is influencing the security manager function in the retail and aviation sectors. Thereby, both subject to financial, economical, legal or corporate pressures due to their essence and nature.

Towards competition, retail sector and mimicry capability

Trying to achieve a state where people feel safe has been demonstrated as being complicated. What about the difficulty to organise it in an increasingly competitive business environment, where many organisations are seeking geographic diversification as a way to achieve organic growth and reduce volatility of incomes streams? What about the outcomes of this challenge when the security manager himself is suffering of a lack of recognition and credibility from the boardroom (Stapley et al 2006) or sometimes seen as a nuisance (Button, 2008, p93) or enemy (Challinger, 2006)? What about the fact that the security manager subordinates are expecting their leader to be expert at some, if not all, aspects of the business (Bamfield, 2006)?

Firstly, the use of metrics to evaluate the security risk is seen by Hayes (2005) and their interpretation (Dodd, 2005) as remedies to tackle the first issue. According to Button (2008, p93), the second issue could be managed if the security manager was able to make the case for security to board managers by talking their language and the last one could be handled by the implementation at governmental level of adequate educational and licensing frameworks and isomorphism proceeds (ibid).

Bijective mapping allow nodal systems in their context to sustain by exchanging knowledge through information transfer and mimicry capability. They anticipate a future need: feeling safe. Different bodies such as the British Retail Consortium and the Retail Research Centre exist in this way, influencing retail security managers in taking initiatives and in preventing the emergence of criminal activities within their nodes. The implementation of an appropriate and well balanced crime prevention strategy is by this way achieved: a transfer of knowledge.

The fractality of the various components present in a nodal system having been exposed, assessed and described, all seem to conclude that, driven by various financial, social, educational, individual and technological influences, a state of feeling safe could be reached, however emerging from the security manager achievement.

The aviation sector being different from the previous, the security manager, guardian of the node, will be subject to different influences and it will be the topic of the next section.

A National critical asset: the aviation industry

Air transport is one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy. According to the Department For Transport, in United Kingdom, it is carrying over 235 million passengers a year and over 2.3 million tonnes of freight. However, this carefully orchestrated motion of airborne aircraft is seen as critical national asset: any breach of security could lead to its potential disruption resulting to a consequential slowdown of the world economy and possible huge financial lost. In science, this sensitive dependence on initial conditions is known as Butterfly Effect, concept developed by Edward Norton Lorenz (1917-2008), a pioneer of chaos theory. Gill (2005, p13), analysing the evolution of the security industry over the last decades came to conclude that some things have changed: terrorism. What Button (2008, p161) described as being Islamic terrorists was following the same reasoning. An exponential threat attribute, a sine qua non condition to add in the security mathematical model then emerged. Balancing the various components of the nodal system in attempting to reach a state of feeling safe appears then more complicated, dependencies and attributes being added. The escalation of this issue and the growing concern arising from the public finally lead the American Congress to go further: the response to lethal force will be the lethal force (Sweet, 2009, p10). The airline pilots were then able to carry weapons in their cockpits (ibid), appearing to be the last rampart to protect the node from this threat. However and highlighted by Button (2008, p162), it appeared that a state of feeling safe could be reached by eliminating the threat proactively, concept shared at some point by Gill (2009) on an another subject. Interestingly and despite the seriousness of the matter, the strength of the nodal protective system appeared fragile. Button (2008, p293), analysing security failures in the aviation industry, exposed fundamental and common weaknesses of the overall system and concluded that both human and technological factors were their root causes, concept shared by Lt Colonel Sweet (2009, pp177-89). Consequently and once again, it appears that the guardian of the node will be subject to various influences during his journey, ranging from individual, social, environmental or political to technological passing by corporate, educational and financial.


This essay has described and assessed the main influences on the function of a security manager within the retail and aviation sectors. It began with the exploration of a security context adapted from Zedner Lucia (2003b) and the description of the security manager function and its understanding adapted from Hayes (2005). The fact that based on a socio-technological system, the influences were various, emerging from complex individual, psychological, social, authoritative, educational and technological flows of dependencies, sometimes referred by Mullins (2010, p901) as PESTEL (Political, Economic, Sociocultural, Technological, Environmental, Legal) has then been outlined. The following discussion assessed the main influences on the function of a security manager in the retail sector, where competitiveness and mimicry capability are essential in attempting to create and organise a state of ‘feeling safe’. The fact that the function of a security manager is not really understood by retailers was highlighted, notably by the work of Button (2008, pp7594). Its challenging aspect was described by Bamfield (2006) and Dodd (2005). It was then outlined that while the influential core remained the same, the educational and financial influences were the most significant (Button, 2008). The last discussion concerned the main influences on the function of a security manager in the aviation industry, where the Islamic terrorism threat is ubiquitous (Button, 2008, p161) and the butterfly effect outcomes are costly (Sweet, 2009, p112). It was then outlined that individual, social, political, technological, corporate, educational and financial flows were influencing the function of the security manager.


Bamfield J. (2006). 'Management' in Gill M. (ed.) Handbook of security (pp485-508). Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Button M. (2008). Doing security: critical reflections and an agenda for change. Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Challinger D. (2006). 'Corporate security: a cost or contributor to the bottom line?' in Gill M. (ed.) Handbook of security (pp586-609). Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Clarke R. V. (2004). 'Technology, criminology and crime science'. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 10: 55–63.

Clarke R.V (2005). 'Seven misconceptions of situational crime prevention'. In Tilley N. (ed.) Handbook of crime prevention and community safety (pp39-70). Third Edition. Cullompton: Willan Publishing.

Dodd N. J. (2005). 'Troublemakers and nothing to lose employee offenders identified from corporate crime data sample' in Gill M. (ed.) Managing security (pp181-93). Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hayes R. (2005). 'Loss prevention: senior management views on current trends and is-sues' in Gill M. (ed.) Managing security (pp39-58). Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gill M. (2005) (ed.) Managing security. Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gill M. (2006) (ed.) Handbook of security. Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gill M. (2009). 'Reducing the capacity to offend: restricting resources for offending' in Tilley N. (ed.) Handbook of crime prevention and community safety (pp306-28). Third edition. Collumpton: Willan Publishing.

Manunta G. (1999). 'What is security?'. Security Journal,12:57-66.

Manunta G. Manunta R. (2006). 'Theorizing about security' in Gill M. (ed.) Handbook of security (pp629-57). Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mullins L. J. (2010). Management and organisational behaviour. Ninth Edition. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Newburn T. (2007). Criminology. Oregon: Willan Publishing.

Reason J. (2008). The human contribution: unsafe acts, accident and heroic recoveries. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing.

Rogers B. (2006). 'Engineering principles for security managers' in Gill M. (ed.) Handbook of security (pp66-89). Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schneider R. H. (2006). 'Contribution of environmental studies to security' in Gill M. (ed .) Handbook of security (pp901-17). Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Stapley C. et al (2006). 'The study of national security versus the study of corporate security: what can they learn from each others?' in Gill M. (ed.) Handbook of security (pp45-65). Basingstone: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sweet K. M. (2009). Aviation and airport security: terrorism and safety concerns. Second Edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Tilley N. (2009) (ed.) Handbook of crime prevention and community safety. Third edition. Collumpton: Willan Publishing.

Zedner L. (2003b). 'The concept of security: an agenda for comparative analysis'. Legal studies, 23:153-76.

Is there such a thing as an unified theory of risk and does the academic literature account for such principle adequately?


Concerns about health, safety, security and resilience in society have brought the notion of risk to the forefront of contemporary debates (Hood and Jones, 2001; Borodzicz, 2005; Carrel, 2010). Academics speak about the 'risk society' (Beck, 1999), a society governed by risk (O'Malley, 2010, p2), where the latter is extremely diffused and embedded in every aspects of human life (Löfstedt and Boholm, 2009); a society where everyone is concerned with 'risk' (Adams, 1995, p1). Although monosyllabic, the word 'risk' seems difficult to define. According to Ove Hansson (2009, p43), risk is bi-context dependent: one scientific or technical, one non-scientific or original. The understanding of risk appears then perplexing (Royal Society, 1992). It is related to a complex aggregation of complexes extremely varied and divergent (Zinn, 2008), grounded on the study of human sciences (Thompson, Ellis and Wildavsky, 1990), formal sciences (Bernstein, 1996) and psychology (Slovic, 2010), where the concepts of utility (Barbera, 1999), rational choice (Anand, Pattanaik and Puppe, 2009), opportunity (Natarajan, 2011) and heuristics (Gigerenzer, Mertwig and Pachur, 2011) are omnipresent; where randomness, uncertainty, unpredictability, chaos and fractality seem convergent.

To better benefit from the matter, risk reductionism appears opportunistic (Button, 2008, p126; Talbot and Jakeman, 2009). 'Is there such thing as an unified theory of risk and does the academic literature account for such principle adequately?' is the main topic of this essay. However, before such question being addressed, it is important to firstly define 'risk' and consider its meanings and then, to understand three fundamental streams of risk theory, namely the scientific theory, the sociocultural theory and the psychological theory. It is also interesting to consider the development of a conceptual qualitative equation and the relation ‘risk-pattern' towards 'risk' understanding.

Divergence, complexity and the long lasting debate

The study of risk being interdisciplinary (Borodzicz, 2005), subject matter experts are disagreeing about its meaning (Button, 2008, p126). It is therefore a controversial issue (Hood and Jones, 2001) where risk appears difficult to define (Ove Hansson, 2009). However, three definitions of 'risk' are commonly accepted by academics and concerned subject matter experts. Thus, according to the Royal Society Study Group (1992, p2), risk is defined as being 'the probability that a particular adverse event occurs during a stated period of time, or results from a particular challenge'. Risk is therefore associated to 'negative outcomes’ and appears closely related to the concepts of hazard, impact or threat pre-sent in contemporary security management (Gill, 2006; Button, 2008; Talbot and Jakeman, 2009), health and safety management (Ferret, 2012) or emergency and disaster management (Moore and Lakha, 2006). Risk is therefore associated to probabilistic consequences related to predictable 'attacks' emerging from different threat actors such as criminals, terrorists, computer viruses, fires, floods or earthquakes. Highlighting the possibility that risk could also have positive outcomes, the Institute of Risk Management acknowledged that risk could be 'the combination of the probability of an event and its consequence; consequences can range from positive to negative' (Hopkin, 2010, p12). Such concept is becoming relevant towards the understanding of modern business practices, where companies are striving for profits and struggling to reduce their losses associated to economic threats through risk transfer, termination, tolerance or treatment (Spencer Pickett, 2010). As such, it is now considered as being a 'best practice' for corporations to have an embedded 'enterprise risk management' (ERM) process (Carrel, 2010). It is about attempting to balance the risks associated to business losses and operations performance using an holistic medium of management to increase competitiveness (Lam, 2003). Risk is therefore a catalyst for organisational change, focusing on outcomes and performance (Power, 2010, p13).

Risk being indissociable from uncertainty (Adams, 1995, p17), the definition proposed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) seems to be opportunistic. Thus, according to the previously cited, risk is 'the effect of uncertainty on objectives; effect may be positive, negative, or a deviation from the expected' (Hopkin, 2010, p12). Such definition of risk is becoming relevant in the fields of nanotechnology, pharmaceutics or genetics (Hunt and Mehta, 2006). Uncertainty, thus 'risk', appears being related to the lack of knowledge in specific areas of concern and narrow domains of application. Academics are speaking about the 'precautionary principle': to do not 'take' the risk, just in case, as the consequences of the act are unforeseeable and could be catastrophic and irreversible (ibid). According to Borodzicz (2005, p16), risk is attached to the narrow concept of rational choice (Anand, Pattanaik and Puppe, 2009). As such, its meaning appears directly related to the cognitive capability of the decision maker and to the extent of information available.

Risk appears then dependent on intelligence and relying on effective communication (Löfstedt, 2009, pp16980). It is, to some extent, related to the balance between pleasure and pain (Beccaria, 1973) or rewards and losses (Ansoff, 1979), utility introduced by Barbera (1999). As such, a decision maker is seen as balancing the choice' options according to the utility of the probable outcomes (Merna and Al-Thani, 2008, p92). Emerging from the study of criminal behaviours, risk is also related to opportunities (Natarajan, 2011). As such, the choice of the decision maker appears being limited according to a certain number of 'opportunistic choices' and their availabilities.

Risk being defined and its meanings being understood, the next section of this essay will introduce the scientific theory of risk according to historical facts and academics opinions.

The Dance of Liber Abaci, analytics and the probability theory

The spectrum of the scientific theory of risk is extremely wide and encompasses data and concepts emerging from the discovery of the Arab Numerals by Leonard Pisono (11701250), the one of the probability theory by Giralamo Cardano in the sixteenth century and the birth of the first insurance company Lloyd's of London in 1637 (Bernstein, 1996). The scientific approach to risk appears therefore concerned with quantitative analysis, probability, metrics, statistical sampling and mathematical calculus (Garcia, 2006; Young, 2010). According to Foucault (2007), such an instrumental view of risk gradually extended to social order and global trade following the emergence of the Capitalism in the nineteenth century. Such conceptualisation is being shared by O'Malley (2010) while highlighting that the society is governed by risk, meaning that Governments prefer such robust type of analysis while addressing their political agenda and security concerns. This 'scientisation' of risk is also being preferred by security specialists while dealing with critical assets such as nuclear power station, power grids, maritime ports, airports, financial institutions and crowded places such undergrounds or train stations (Gill, 2006; Garcia, 2008; Norman, 2010). Criminologist researchers also regard the scientific theory of risk as being a valuable asset towards their understanding of crime and criminal justice (Ellis et al, 2010). Such an approach to risk has been applied and promoted in other academic disciplines such as economics (Bouchaud and Potters, 2003), business (Porter, 2008), cognitive science (Slovic, 2010), management (Pettinger, 2007) and project management (Merna and Al-Thani, 2008), to cite but few.

The above being said, it appears that the focus of the scientific theory of risk is fourfold and related to firstly, robust risks identifications and accurate measurements; secondly, to rigorous and professional probabilistic analyses weighting the risks likelihoods and the seriousness of their consequences; thirdly, to consequential events modelling and faults analyses and finally to mitigations and countermeasures selections (Talbot and Jakeman, 2009; Norman, 2010).

The scientific approach to risk is objective, emotionless, following a structured methodology and using computer programs as a mean of design, calculation, information processing and presentation (Garcia 2008). The scientific theory of risk is also concerned with the target' vulnerabilities identifications and their testing (Rogers, 2006). Finally, risk is better understood as being a mathematical equation. Thus,

R = C.T.V = Pa.(1PiPn).C

or, including the uncertainty into the calculus

R±Ur = [Pa±Upa][1(Pi±UPi)(Pn±UPn)][C±Uc]

where, R means risk; C means consequences of the loss; T means the threat likelihood; V means the vulnerability of the target; Pa means the probabilistic adversary attack; Pi means the probabilistic interception of the attack; Pn means the probabilistic neutralisation of the attack; U means uncertainty related to the probability calculus.

The point of the scientific theory of risk is therefore to understand the narrow concepts of 'quantitative', 'emotionless analysis', 'rationalism', 'uncertainty', 'risk' and 'security'.

The scientific theory of risk being understood, the next section of this essay will consider the sociocultural theory of risk.

Perceptual screens, open system and the reflective modernisation

Grounded on the works of notorious academics and subject matter experts such as Thompson et al (1990), Douglas (1994), Adams (1995), Beck (1999), Zinn (2008) or O'Malley (2010), the sociocultural theory of risk is considering the 'risk' as being the product of a complex social process subject to human beings groupings interactions, interdependences and interconnections, according to an opened dynamic and institutionalised system with regards to cultural differences and differing perceptions. As such it presupposes that individuals adapt their behaviours towards risk according to various reciprocate individual or collective actions with regards to their distinctive risk perceptions. Thus, according to the 'Grid-Group' concept of Thompson et al (1990), 'risk' perception, under-standing and reaction are related to common shared values, beliefs or preferences among people according to five legitimate and differing 'ways of life'. They identify the latter as being either fatalism, hierarchic, egalitarianism, individualism and autonomy (ibid, p8). Therefore, it implies that people select certain risks for attention to defend their preferred lifestyles and as a forensic resource to place the blame on other groups (Royal Society, 1992, p112). According to Douglas (1994), risk' construct is influenced by the ever growing phenomenon of individualistic behaviour presents in modern capitalist oriented society (1994, pp102-21). As such, she associates individualists as being prone to ‘risk-taking' oriented actions and being considered as liable towards their failures. Therefore, she speaks about risk as blame, accountability and liability (1994).

According to Adams (1995), individuals adjust their behaviours in response to perceived levels of risk according to a given situation. As such, the latter tend to behave less cautiously where they feel safe and more cautiously where they feel less safe. Adams (ibid) speaks therefore about risk compensation or risk homeostasis and advocates that everyone has got a different 'risk thermostat'.

Beck (1999) argues that modern society is systematically dealing with hazards and security issues induced and introduced by the modernisation of such society itself. The society appears then increasingly preoccupied with its future, which generates an increase of the notion of risk among its inhabitants. Beck considers therefore such phenomenon as being the 'risk society'. Highlighting that crime governance has moved away from a focus on reforming offenders towards preventing crime and managing behaviours using risk analyses and risk management initiatives, O'Malley (2010) argues that modern society is governed by risk. As such, he recognises that physical assets are designed against crime according to the probabilistic level of criminal threat they could face. O'Malley also argues (ibid) that political reforms and public health concerns are increasingly depending on the perceived level of risk faced by authorities.

The point of the sociocultural of risk is therefore to understand the narrow concepts of 'different', 'grouping', 'linked', 'moving', 'context', 'adaptation', 'modernity', 'reciprocity', 'perception', 'risk' and 'security'.

The sociocultural theory of risk being understood, the next section of this essay will introduce the psychological one.

Introspection, heuristics and the Long Journey

The psychological theory of risk is grounded on the works of Paul Slovic (2010) and is concerned with evaluating the different cognitive, emotional and heuristic processes influencing human perception of risk. The main theories of risk developed are the 'psychometric paradigm'; the 'affect heuristic' and the 'risk as a feeling'. According to the psychometric paradigm, the perception of risk is influenced by the affect, emotions and stigma. As such, when an individual has pleasure from doing a given activity, the latter will tend to judge the activity' benefits as high and its risks as low. When the same activity is disliked, the judgments are opposite (Slovic, 2010, pp235-314). The affect heuristic recognises that mental shortcuts used during the decision making process are subject to emotions such as fear, surprise and pleasure. As such, an individual will assess the risk of a given situation according to his current emotional state (Slovic, 2010, p312). The 'risk as feeling' is an hybrid concept including the previously cited theories (Slovic, 2010).

The point of the psychological theory of risk is to understand the narrow concepts of 'emotions', 'preferences', 'behaviourism', 'heuristics', 'stimulus', 'risk' and 'security'.


This paper has attempted to demonstrate that despite the possibility of notifying commonalities and similarities among different theories of risk, the idea of an 'unified theory of risk' seems being compromised. However and according to Wakefield et al (2012, p19), the most plausible first step towards such concept seems emerging from the work of Adams (1997). As such, directly perceptible risks, risks perceived with the help of the science and antagonist opinions on risk seem 'unified'. Furthermore, to consider the idea of an 'unified theory' according to a different perspective, it seems relevant to develop a qualitative equation. As such it could start as follow:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

where R = risk concept; Sc = scientific theory of risk; So = sociocultural theory of risk; P = psychological theory of risk; f = function of; X = the pattern that humans have to find in order to see ‘R’; Ɛ = the event; Hu = human understanding; S = concept of security; T = constant time.


Adams J. (1995). Risk. Oxon: Routledge.

Adams J. (1997). Virtual risk and the management of uncertainty. Paper presented at the Royal Society, 'Science, Policy and Risk', London.

Anand P., Pattanaik P., Puppe C. (2009) (ed). The handbook of rational and social choice. New York: Oxford University Press.


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Security and Risk Management. Selected Academic Essays
University of Portsmouth  (Institute of Criminal Justice Studies)
BSc Security and Risk Management
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security, risk, organised crime, security management, risk management, portsmouth
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