FNU Risk Management research paper

FNU Risk Management research paper

FNU Risk Management research paper

Risk assessment and management was established as a scientific field some 30–40 years ago. Principles and methods were developed for how to conceptualise, assess and manage risk. These principles and methods still represent to a large extent the foundation of this field today, but many advances have been made, linked to both the theoretical platform and practical models and procedures. The purpose of the present invited paper is to perform a review of these advances, with a special focus on the fundamental ideas and thinking on which these are based. We have looked for trends in perspectives and approaches, and we also reflect on where further development of the risk field is needed and should be encouraged. The paper is written for readers with different types of background, not only for experts on risk.

The concept of risk and risk assessments has a long history. More than 2400 years ago the Athenians offered their capacity of assessing risk before making decisions (Bernstein, 1996). However, risk assessment and risk management as a scientific field is young, not more than 30–40 years old. From this period we see the first scientific journals, papers and conferences covering fundamental ideas and principles on how to appropriately assess and manage risk.

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To a large extent, these ideas and principles still form the basis for the field today—they are the building blocks for the risk assessment and management practice we have seen since the 1970s and 1980s. However, the field has developed considerably since then. New and more sophisticated analysis methods and techniques have been developed, and risk analytical approaches and methods are now used in most societal sectors. As an illustration of this, consider the range of specialty groups of the Society for Risk Analysis (www.sra.org) covering inter alia: Dose Response, Ecological Risk Assessment, Emerging Nanoscale Materials, Engineering and Infrastructure, Exposure Assessment, Microbial Risk Analysis, Occupational Health and Safety, Risk Policy and Law, and Security and Defense. Advances have also been made in fundamental issues for the field in recent years, and they are of special interest as they are generic and have the potential to influence a broad set of applications. These advances are the scope of the present paper.

The risk field has two main tasks, (I) to use risk assessments and risk management to study and treat the risk of specific activities (for example the operation of an offshore installation or an investment), and (II) to perform generic risk research and development, related to concepts, theories, frameworks, approaches, principles, methods and models to understand, assess, characterise, communicate and (in a wide sense) manage/govern risk (Aven and Zio, 2014SRA, 2015b). The generic part (II) provides the concepts and the assessment and management tools to be used in the specific assessment and management problems of (I). Simplified, we can say that the risk field is about understanding the world (in relation to risk) and how we can and should understand, assess and manage this world.

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