How do risk managers become influential? A field study of toolmaking in two financial institutions

Matthew Hall, Anette Mikes, Yuval Millo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


This paper, based on a five-year longitudinal study at two UK-based banks, documents and analyzes the practices used by risk managers as they interact and communicate with managers in their organizations. Specifically, we examine how risk managers (1) establish and maintain interpersonal connections with decision makers; and how they (2) adopt, deploy and reconfigure tools-practices that we define collectively as toolmaking. Using prior literature and our empirical observations, we distinguish between activities to which toolmaking was not central, and those to which toolmaking was important. Our study contributes to the accounting and management literature by highlighting the central role of toolmaking in explaining how functional experts may compete for the attention of decision makers in the intraorganizational marketplace for managerially relevant information. Specifically, as risk management becomes more tool-driven and toolmaking may become more prevalent, our study provides a more nuanced understanding of the nature and consequences of risk management in contemporary organizations. An explicit focus on toolmaking extends accounting research that has hitherto focused attention on the structural arrangements and interpersonal connections when explaining how functional experts can become influential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Risk management
  • Toolmaking
  • Influence
  • Functional experts

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