Risk culture during the last 2000 years - from an aleatory society to the illusion of risk control

  • The culture of risk is 2000 years old, although the term “risk” developed much later. The culture of merchants making decisions under uncertainty and taking the individual responsibility for the uncertain future started with the Roman “Aleatory Society”, continued with medieval sea merchants, who made business “ad risicum et fortunam”, and sustained to the culture of entrepreneurs in times of industrialisation and dynamic economic changes in the 18th and 19th century. For all long-term commercial relationships, the culture of honourable merchants with personal decision-making and individual responsibility worked well. The successful development of sciences, statistics and engineering within the last 100 years led to the conjecture that men can “construct” an economical system with a pre-defined “clockwork” behaviour. Since probability distributions could be calculated ex-post, an illusion to control risk ex-ante became a pattern in business and banking. Based on the recent experiences with the financial crisis, a “risk culture” should understand that human “Strength of Knowledge” is limited and the “unknown unknown” can materialise. As all decisions and all commercial agreements are made under uncertainty, the culture of honourable merchants is key to achieve trust in long-term economic relations with individual responsibility, flexibility to adapt and resilience against the unknown.

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Author:Udo MilkauGND
Parent Title (German):International journal of financial studies
Place of publication:Basel
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2017/12/01
Date of first Publication:2017/12/01
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/05/02
Tag:aleartory society; disequilibrium; honourable merchant; illusion of control; individual responsibility; risk culture
Page Number:20
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Institutes:Wirtschaftswissenschaften / Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Wissenschaftliche Zentren und koordinierte Programme / House of Finance (HoF)
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 33 Wirtschaft / 330 Wirtschaft
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0