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Managing Risks, Innovation and Dissonance

  • Enseignant(s):  
  • Titre en français: Gestion des risques, iinnovation et dissonance
  • Cours donné en: anglais
  • Crédits ECTS:
  • Horaire: Semestre d'automne 2018-2019, 2.0h. de cours (moyenne hebdomadaire)
      WARNING :   this is an old version of the syllabus, old versions contain   OBSOLETE   data.
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By the end of the course you will be able to:

1. Define, research and make recommendations for the solution of complex risk situations and business problems ("risky conundrums").

2. Applying concepts (such as risk incubation) and theories (such as the "relational theory of risk"), you will be able to better understand the diverse sources of dissonance, which (unchecked) can result in control failure and suboptimal business and societal outcomes. You will also be able to recommend adequate solutions, mobilizing the toolkit of accounting and control.

3. Understand the relationships between strategy risks, innovation and dissonance, and consider adequate managerial responses to this inevitable « creativity triad ».

4. A critical appreciation of different classical and more recent studies on risk, innovation and dissonance. That is, an ability to read, synthesize and critique academic papers, to present and communicate complex ideas in a classroom setting, and to build theoretical frameworks that synthesize different perspectives.


This course focuses on "risky conundrums" – complex, contentious risk situations and business problems that involve a multitude of stakeholders and values at risk. Managing risky conundrums is one of the key societal and organizational challenges of our time. By way of example, one could argue that one of our riskiest conundrums, human-induced climate change and its consequences, is unfolding as we speak, while with the staggering pace of innovation in genetics, artificial intelligence and others, we are creating other conundrums too.

In this course, we take a risk-management lens to big societal problems and try to understand their nature, and consider the role of calculative and management practices in dealing with them. First, we shall examine preventable risks, and explore the phenomenon at their root, risk incubation. Then we turn to strategy risks, which promise benefits for those who take them carefully, and explore the « creativity triad » : risk, innovation and dissonance. Rather than viewing dissonance as inevitably dysfunctional, we shall explore how managers can harness it in order to achieve diverse objectives and find solutions to complex organizational and societal challenges. In this way, this course builds on, and investigates further, the risk-management issues explored in Advanced Management Accounting.

The problems we shall explore through the lens of this course include not only those related to organizational failure, but also to financial crises, and the (so far) globally ineffective response to climate change. The objective is to give you the confidence and mind-set to dare to take on some of these challenges in your professional lives, so that you can "do your bit" and make a positive difference.

For rigour and theoretical depth, we shall apply research-based frameworks for a number of real-life organizational and societal conundrums, in the solution of which calculative practices (such as accounting and risk analyses) have got a role. You will see, however, that such practices do not work by themselves - they need to be made work. If you plan to write your master thesis under my supervision, this course is a must as with each class, there will be both managerial and research-method lessons.


Classes will be based on the discussion of case studies, films and documentaries, as well as relevant research articles that bring to life a real-world risk dilemma.

Related readings will be assigned on a bi-weekly basis - please answer the assignment questions and prepare prior to coming to class.

Required and additional readings will be selected journal articles, shared on Moodle (copyright cases must be purchased).


If you care about the "big problems" of our time that require new managerial thinking and attitudes, this course is definitely for you!

The course builds on, and investigates further, the risk-management issues explored in the previus semester, therefore an interest in managing risks is also important.

Students who are so enthused by risk managemenmt or by some risky conundrum that they write their Masters Thesis under my supervision, are expected to take this course.


1ère tentative

Sans examen (cf. modalités)  

In the seminar format of this course, there will be a lot of scope for class discussion and presentation of group projects. I shall also expect students to work on a project of their choice and submit a related final essay (there will be no written exam).

Class participation, presentations: 50%

Final essay: 50%


Sans examen (cf. modalités)  

Remedial essay (100%)

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