Toward a Concept of Risk for Effective Military Decision Making


  1. Mandel, D.R.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN)
This report critically examines existing concepts of risk and offers recommendations for improving the definition of risk and other risk-related terms. The author highlights the fact that the concept of risk is problematic because it is ambiguous and vague. In the vernacular, risk has multiple meanings including (a) risk as potential loss, (b) risk as a probability of a negative event occurring, and (c) risk as variability, volatility, or uncertainty regarding events in the future. In addition, many organisational definitions of risk define the concept in terms of an integration of the probability of a threat and the severity of its potential consequences. The author examines the definition of risk promulgated by (a) the Government of Canada through the Treasury Board Secretariat in its 2001 Integrated Risk Management Framework, (b) the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces (DND/CF) through the 2002 Joint Doctrine on Risk Management for CF Operations and the 2005 Integrated Risk Management Guideline and Policy documents, and (c) the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC). The report concludes with recommendations for the definition of risk, expected utility, and uncertainty, which the author proposes form a set of concepts that can contribute to effective decision making in defence and security contexts.

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risk concept, decision making, integrated risk management framework
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-TR-2007-124 — Technical Report
Date of publication
01 Dec 2007
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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