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What do strategists mean when they talk about risk?

Philip A. Wickham (Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield Business School, Huddersfield, UK.)

Business Strategy Series

ISSN: 1751-5637

Article publication date: 4 July 2008




The purpose of this paper is to introduce strategic managers to a multi‐perspective approach to thinking about risk.


This paper takes the form of a review.


An eight‐fold way of thinking about risk is suggested: as a formal idea in finance and economics; as fear of loss, often non‐monetary and qualitative; as something that influences strategic choice; as something that influences strategic behaviour; as a factor in position and status; as something the brain is adapted to deal with – quickly and efficiently; as something that effects the way strategic managers deal with information and impacts on their cognitive processing; and as something that, like resources, is shared between the organisation and its stakeholders.

Practical implications

The article suggests a practical checklist for strategists to think about the risk(s) of different strategic options and how it impacts on strategy evaluation and implementation.


The paper identifies the significant lacuna with regard to risk in modern strategic management.



Wickham, P.A. (2008), "What do strategists mean when they talk about risk?", Business Strategy Series, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 201-210.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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