Risk management as passionate imitation: the interconnections among emotions, performance metrics, and risk in a global technology firm

Martin Carlsson-Wall, Katarina Kaarbøe, Kalle Kraus, Anita Meidell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper traces the evolution of risk management practices in a global technology company between 2000 and 2015. We extend recent research that has highlighted the emotional aspects of riskwork. We detail how a passionate interest—‘we can do better at risk management’—emotionally ‘hooked’ the staff in the company's Sourcing Unit. Risk management, emotion, and management controls were intertwined. When top management singled out one of the key metrics clearly as a risk-related metric for the Sourcing Unit, the employees felt a strong sense of relief, which gave rise to subsequent extensive risk measurement. We also contribute to the more general debate about accounting and its entanglement with emotions. Little is known about the ‘birth’ and the reasons for durability of passionate interests. Following Tarde (1903/2013), such ‘birth’ and endurance can be explained by analyzing how passionate imitation emerges as a result of a series of dislocal events—in our case a fire, new performance metrics, and natural disasters. These events triggered emotions that provided the necessary energy for three forms of passionate imitation: a) ‘we need to imitate our main competitor’ and risk mapping; b) ‘others in the organization are imitating us and our suppliers should imitate us’ and risk measurement; and c) ‘others in the organization (more specifically the Product Development Unit) should imitate us’ and proactive risk avoidance. This passionate imitation helped explain why the sourcing staff continued to be emotionally ‘hooked’ to risk management, that is, how the passionate interest endured and became vested.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Emotion
  • Imitation
  • Passionate interest
  • Performance measurement
  • Risk management
  • Tarde

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