Managing Risk in an Unstable World
HBR, June 2005 Issue
Reprint # R0506B
I have often discussed the importance of managing risk in uncertain business environments. This important article published over 3 years ago talks about the specific risk of growing in potentially unstable emerging markets. I strongly suggest ordering the reprint.
With emerging markets like China and politically unstable countries like Saudi Arabia figuring more than ever into companies' investment calculations, business leaders are turning to political risk analysis to measure the impact of politics on potential markets, minimize risks, and make the most of global opportunities. But political risk is more subjective than its economic counterpart. It is influenced by the passage of laws, the foibles of government leaders, and the rise of popular movements. So corporate leaders must grapple not just with broad, easily observable trends but also with nuances of society and even quirks of personality. And those hard-to-quantify factors must constantly be pieced together into an ongoing narrative within historical and regional contexts. As goods, services, information, ideas, and people cross borders today with unprecedented velocity, corporations debating operational or infrastructural investments abroad increasingly need objective, rigorous assessments. One tool for measuring and presenting stability data, for example, incorporates 20 composite indicators of risk in emerging markets and scores risk variables according to both their structural and their temporal components. The indicators are then organized into four equally weighted subcategories whose ratings are aggregated into a single stability score. Companies can buy political risk analyses from consultants or develop them in-house.