Risk as a mode of organising
University of Exeter
This paper explores the micro-foundations of risk as a mode of organizing (Scheytt et al, 2006). Drawing on Hilgartner's (1992) work on the social construction of risk objects, we investigate how a policy designed to improve doctoral supervision was reconstructed as a number of different risks in a UK research intensive university. We show how efforts to control the risk(s) through acts of emplacing (making it something to be reckoned with) and displacing (stripping the risk of its significance), both incubated and created new risk objects which in turn were further emplaced and displaced. Through the course of this process, the nature of a PhD changed. Our story dispels the myth that risks are ‘out there waiting to be discovered’ and instead, reveals how these processes are mediated through the reflexive attempts of actors to control the risks, their reputation and their accountability.