Organising Risk

The Organising Risk research aims to help organisations and individuals understand the complexity and ubiquity of risk and to develop different strategies for managing it.


This research was conducted by the University of Melbourne's Professor Cynthia Hardy in partnership with Professor Steve Maguire from McGill University. It was funded by the Australian Research Council (DP110101764) and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (435-2014-0256).

The initial focus of this research was on managing chemical risks. Industrial chemicals play a vital role in the Australian economy, generating $30 billion a year. But, these chemicals also pose risks to human health and the environment, making it vitally important that appropriate strategies are developed to minimise any dangers.

With Canada considered a pioneer in its approach to managing chemical risks, this study compares the way in which Australian and Canadian organisations approach the issue.

The future purpose of this research is to examine the role of multiple organisations in managing diverse risks. The research team believes that sustainable strategies cannot rely solely on regulation to enforce minimal requirements. Instead, organising risks effectively requires collaboration between business, government and non-governmental organisations to ensure proactive responses. It also requires organisations to adopt more flexible strategies for dealing with risks, particularly when they are novel and unfamiliar.

Practitioner summaries

Managing the Risk Cycle

The Paradoxes of Risk

Disrupting Power Relations in the Risk Cycle

The Discourse of Risk and Riskification

Risk Work in Three Scenarios of Risk

New Approaches to Organizing Risk: Part One

New Approaches to Organizing Risk: Part Two

Research papers on organising chemical risks

S Maguire & C Hardy, 'Organizing Processes and the Construction of Risk: A Discursive Approach', Academy of Management Journal, 56(1): 231–255, 2013

C Hardy & S Maguire, 'Organizing Risk: Discourse, Power and Riskification' Academy of Management Review, 41(1): 80-108, 2016

S Maguire & C Hardy, 'Risk Work: Three Scenarios from a Study of Industrial Chemicals in Canada', in Riskwork: Essays on the Organizational Life of Risk Management, (ed.) M. Power, Oxford University Press, 2016

Hardy, C; Maguire, S, 'The Janus Faces of Risk', The Routledge Companion to Risk, Crisis and Emergency Management, 2019, First, pp. 504 – 507