Management control and portfolio risk management in an organisation of national significance: the case of the Royal Navy

  • Richard Thomas

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business Administration


    Purpose: To enhance risk management practices within Navy Command whilst adding to academic knowledge on management control and risk management. An organisation of national significance through provision of Defense and security, the Royal Navy must not fail in its mission, thus enhancement of its risk management practices makes a vital contribution to a national imperative.

    Approach: A reflexive qualitative methodology was chosen by a practitioner-researcher to obtain rich data from a green field area of research over an 18-month period; and so, give visibility of risk management practices at the most senior levels of Defense. Research methods of observation, document review and semi-structured interviews were employed, using themes drawn from literature reviews in the fields of management control and risk management. Findings were reflected back to practitioners and academics to test and refine interpretations of what the data was 'saying'.

    Findings: The purpose of enhancing risk management practices was achieved through using case study evidence to create a model for designing an optimal risk management system for Navy Command; in doing so providing additional support for the need for complementarity between risk and other management control systems (MCS). Additionally, the different contributions possible from the risk function were highlighted and two context-specific risk tools were adopted by the oganisation to assist the management of risk exposure over time; the details of which are provided. Finally, leadership is proposed as a fourth variable to Woods' (2009) contingency framework for public sector risk.

    Contribution: There are both theoretical and methodological contributions:

    ♦ Benefit of complementarity in an organisation's management control systems; (Mundy (2010), Grabner and Moers (2013) and Kruis et al (2016)).
    ♦Various roles the risk management function performs, and the importance of their contributing tools and understanding in order to be influential (Mikes, 2009; Hall et al, 2015).
    ♦Role of leadership's mindset as a fourth contingent factor for public sector risk management as proposed by Woods (2009), as defined by Linsley and Kewell (2015).
    ♦Contribution to knowledge using a qualitative interpretive case study (Walsham, 1995; De Loo and Lowe, 2017).
    Date of Award13 Jun 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMelina Manochin (Supervisor), Margaret Woods (Supervisor) & Philip Linsley (Supervisor)


    • Management Control
    • Leadership
    • Risk Management System Design

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