Department of Economics and Business Economics

Tone from the top in risk management: A complementarity perspective on how control systems influence risk awareness

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  • Evelyn C. Braumann
  • Isabella Grabner, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business
  • ,
  • Arthur Posch, University of Bern

Prompted by the weaknesses of standardized risk-management approaches in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, scholars, regulators, and practitioners alike emphasize the importance of creating a risk-aware culture in organizations. Recent insights highlight the special role of tone from the top as a crucial driver of risk awareness. In this study, we take a systems perspective on control system design to investigate the role of tone from the top in creating risk awareness. In particular, we argue that both the interactive and the diagnostic use of budgets and performance measures interact with tone from the top in managing risk awareness. Our results show that interactive control strengthens the effect of tone from the top on risk awareness, whereas tone from the top and diagnostic control are empirically not interrelated with regard to creating risk awareness. To shed light on the boundary conditions of the proposed interdependencies, we further investigate whether the predicted interdependencies are sensitive to the level of perceived environmental uncertainty. We find that the effect of tone from the top and interactive control becomes significantly stronger in a situation of high perceived environmental uncertainty. Most interestingly, tone from the top and diagnostic control are complements with regard to risk awareness in settings of low perceived environmental uncertainty and substitutes at high levels of perceived environmental uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101128
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

    Research areas

  • Interactive and diagnostic use of budgets and performance measures, Perceived environmental uncertainty, Risk awareness, SMEs, Tone from the top

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