The Evolving Forms of Risk Reporting Practices: A Longitudinal Content Analysis of Risk Communication Across Hierarchical Levels

Ulrik Christiansen, Sof Thrane, Torben Juul Andersen

Research output: Working paperResearch


This study investigates the risk reporting between central administration and different operating units performed on major project investments supervised by the Danish Ministry of Defense. The study analyses how risk information is communicated across hierarchical levels based on a formalized risk reporting system. The risk management frameworks generally assume that information is communicated in exact codified form, but little research has analyzed the construction of risk when the reporting trespasses organizational levels. The managers in the middle however are often depicted as mediators between intent communicated from top management and updated insights from the operating core. In order to analyze this intermediation and how reported risk develops across hierarchical levels, we conduct a temporal content analysis of 32 risk management reports exchanged between the central administration and operating units during 2008-12. We observe that the risk constructs change following social ordering patterns of different risk practices as the reporting moves up and down hierarchical levels over time. Risk reporting is both influenced by exogenous events and the “nature” of the risk object but is also shaped by systematic variation in reporting practices at different hierarchical levels. Here the tactical middle layer adheres to temporalizing form of risk reporting practices in attempts to create flexibility within a rigid management reporting system.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School, CBS
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2015


  • Construction of risk
  • Horizontal communication
  • Management reporting
  • Risk management frameworks

Cite this