Read this paper “at your own risk”

Prof David CarmichaelIn a recently published journal paper, engineering management expert Professor David Carmichael argues – controversially - that the risk literature – and practice - is in disarray across all disciplines. His work looks as the literature and practice associated with risk and risk management, in an attempt to promote healthy discussion on risk and to advance the state-of-the-art.

Risk pervades nearly everything that engineers do, and appears continually in the engineering literature and conversations. Yet, according to Professor Carmichael, risk has many different meanings, with no consistency of usage or unanimously accepted usage. In fact, he argues, “misuse of the term has been exacerbated by the present-day potpourri of non-rigorous and conflicting usages within multiple disciplines, each acting as a silo and not looking outside its own discipline, or looking to be rigorous.”

His paper outlines the multiple conflicting definitions and usages of the term risk, and proposes a definitive meaning using systems concepts. Risk management is dissected and demonstrated to be but a special case of systems engineering, systematic problem solving or systems synthesis.

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