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Risk Calculation

The more decision-making possibilities a system has, or assumes, in order to influence the future or to react to future events differently, the more occupied it is in calculating its risks. Therefore, particularly for (economic) organisations, who strive for future success and are dependent upon it, it becomes unavoidable to occupy themselves with which risks should be taken (rollout of sales in another country?), which present-day costs should be born for them (developing sales structures), by which criteria to measure success (time frame for return on investment) and so on. Consequently, norms are formed, which recognises an appropriate handling of risk (“Has everything been calculated? What does risk management say?”). However, is it rational to demand rationality in handling risk? Is it affordable? This is questionable, not least because risk is always calculated by the risk taker and the risk bearers are, in a best-case scenario, only taken account of as costs. Therefore, what is calculated rationally by the organisation, may be completely irrational for parts of its environment (for example due to exploitation of natural resources etc.).

As a result, risk calculations are primarily intended for the purpose of arguments for risk communication, once the success or the failure has been triggered. Thus, calculations can help to identify the genitors of success (“Because we were so courageous!”) or justify the failure (“All the assumptions were actually correct, it only failed because the share prices slumped!”). These considerations are a further puzzle piece in the argument process, that consensus cannot be created about ‘justifiable’ risks, and that, therefore, decisions about risks are always vulnerable to criticism.