Managing the threat of terrorism in British travel and leisure organizations

Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor, David C. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - To study how the threats of terrorism are being handled by a variety of UK companies in the travel and leisure sector in the UK in the post 9/11 era.
Design/methodology/approach - A review of the literature of risk management in a world that is perceived to be more risky as a result of the terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 (9/11) is presented. Describes the application of theories of organizational resilience and institutions to frame an understanding of how managers make sense of terrorism risk and comprehend uncertainty. Reports a qualitative analysis of themes in interviews conducted with 25 managers from 6 unnamed organizations in the aviation industry (3 organizations) and the UK travel and leisure industry (3 organizations), representing a catering supplier, an airport, an airline, a tour company, a convention centre, and an arts and entertainment centre.
Findings - The results indicated that the three organizations in the aviation industry prioritize threats from terrorism, whilst the three organizations in the leisure and travel sector do not, suggesting that the managers in the travel and leisure industry apply a probabilistic type of thinking and believe the likelihood of terrorism to be low. Reports that they give precedence to economic concerns and numerous other threats to the industry. Concludes that managers fall prey to the 'ludic fallacy', which conceives all odds as being calculable and hence managers conceive the terrorism risk as low while also expecting institutional factors to pre-empt and control terrorism threats, a reaction which the authors believe to be rather complacent and dangerous.
Originality/value - Contributes to the research literature on risk management by revealing the gap in the ability of existing management tools and methodologies to deal with current and uncertain threats facing organizations due to terrorism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-276
Number of pages26
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


  • uncertainty
  • risk and extreme threats
  • managerial perceptions
  • terrorism
  • agency and organization


Dive into the research topics of 'Managing the threat of terrorism in British travel and leisure organizations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this