Centre for Risk, Banking and Financial Services
  • Print

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Seminar Series

Meet the team

Dr Cormac Bryce

Areas of Interest: Multi-method human behaviour measurement, beliefs, preferences and actions under uncertainty, incident reporting, organisational culture, human error, employee integrity.

“The seminar programme will create a space in which to explore and address the challenges of generating innovative research in an area in which silo-mentalities are the norm. It is envisaged that this will lead to intellectually stimulating debates with applied benefits for multiple stakeholders within the seminar series. Where else could you envisage a discussion involving the Costa Concordia maritime tragedy and the JP Morgan ‘London Whale’ saga?

Cases of relevance

“18 months ago during the unravelling of the Costa Concordia maritime disaster it occurred to me that no matter how technologically advanced or fail safe work environments are mistakes, errors, and inappropriate employee behaviours still happen. It was this thought coupled with my own research on risk escalation and incident reporting at the time that spurred my desire to setup the ESRC seminar series, not because I thought we could cure, but because I thought we could reduce barriers to communication”

(Dr Cormac Bryce)




Prof Justin Waring

Areas of Interest: Medical incident reporting, patient safety, surgical error.

“For many organisations and industries key individuals seem to sit on the razor’s edge of safety or danger. Small adjustments in practice can have potential devastating consequences. Research increasingly attends to the upstream or systemic sources of these risks, but it still remains important to understand the behaviour, cultural and social aspects of those people at the sharp-end. For me this seminar series will enable us to explore people risk in different settings.

Cases of relevance

"Healthcare risk remains a prominent pubic, political and professional concern. The recent Mid-Staffordshire Inquiry highlighted the very real risks that patients can face when receiving inadequate care. It has called for a more compassionate, accountable and high-quality workforce to ensure that those on the frontline ensure the highest standards of care. At the same time, this and similar reports, highlight the failings of individuals, processes and systems in the wider health system."

(Professor Justin Waring)



Prof Brian Lucey

Areas of Interest: Regulation, stock market manipulation, rogue trading, corporate governance.

“This series is essential for understanding how the human side of organisations, too often forgotten especially in finance, can be the weakest link. We have seen time and again that well designed risk management processes are susceptible to people forgetting, neglecting or simply circumventing the well-designed risk protocols. This can and has had disastrous consequences.”

Cases of relevance

“The Irish banking collapse is a perfect case study for aspects of this seminar series. From the laxity of the regulator through to the inability of the political system to take on board advice given contrary to perceptions, not to mention the unwillingness in the banking system and governance to accept and internalise the risk failures we see that human failures and inappropriate behaviour are at the heart of a set of events that resulted in the beggaring of a nation”

(Professor Brian Lucey)




Dr Aleksandar Sevic

Areas of Interest:  This is an excellent opportunity to meet with experts invarious areas and evaluate the dynamics of risk detection, monitoring and evaluation. With the advancement of algorithmic trading in financial industry and improved speed in processing relevant datasets the risk management has been improved. However, the apparent instability in the macroeconomic milieu cannot be easily quantified at the firm level, which could expose firms to potentially enormous loss levels. Is there a chance to further mitigate the severity of this impact? Is there a role of human behaviour or ‘people risk’ that has not been accounted for in algorithmic trading?

Cases Of relevance

It is evident that the frequency and severity of financial crises have recently increased in spite of a more prominent co-operation among major countries and better readiness by central monetary authorities to provide liquidity and support the global financial system and trade flows. Risk detection, monitoring and evaluation have become rather cyclical and the severity of their misspecification is further aggravated by moral hazard policies. In addition, more stringent demands in meeting regulatory requirements could make compliance initially market distortionary, by exposing financial entities to fire sales in weak markets. Of everything discussed above little to nothing is known of the effect of ‘people risk’ and it is for this reason I am interested in this seminar series and its potential impact.



Dr Rob Webb

Areas of Interest: Operational Risk, banking processes and controls, risk escalation, risk culture.

“The series of seminars will be crucial to bring into the spotlight the role of individuals and groups and assessing their influence over risk management in practice.  It will provide a forum for academics from all disciplines to combine knowledge in order to advance our understanding of risk identification, risk escalation and risk reporting.  Of particular interest is that of the influence of others within an individuals working group and how this influence risk behaviours.  In a world where advanced modelling and the power of technology has moved us in one direction it is important to investigate the interface of individuals with technology and risk management.

Cases of relevance

“A recent example of these issues is the trade-off that can occur within any organisation that there may be a conflict of interest between company policy, profits and risk management.  In essence meaning that company policy can reduce profitable opportunities available within the department that an individual works within and this may lead to errant behaviour that increases risk.  This can remain undetected by the institutions hierarchy for some time.  Such a situation became apparent in Credit Suisse between the years 2007-2009 they failed to maintain effective systems and controls in respect of the suitability of its advice regarding structured capital at risk products”

(Dr Rob Webb)


Prof Zeljko Sevic

Areas of Interest: In an increasingly complex business environment ‘people risk’ is becoming very important for any employer, regardless of the branch of industry. Professional accountants are expected to serve the public providing services of a particular standard, that meet societal and government expectations. The focus of the public has been on the quality of audit (assurance) services and also the quality of financial statements prepared and offered to the public. In the case of former the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has been driving for the improvement of audit standards and practices globally, whilst in the latter, the governments have toyed with many regulatory captures, from regulating accounting profession more stringently to ‘insuring’ against the incomplete and substandard financial statements. Educational standards do address the competencies (knowledge, skills, ethical standards), whilst the quality standards focus on the process, and although they may reduce the probability of a ‘people risk’, they cannot eliminate it – regardless whether it is accidental or intentional (for example, fraud). It is for this reason that I feel the ESRC ‘people risk’ research seminar series could be a useful addition to the accounting profession.

Cases of relevance

The cases of Enron, WorldCom, Parmalat, and others have been known not only to the professional, but also general public. Most recently, the case of Olympus has attracted the attention. The whistle-blowing by the Chief Executive, Michael Woodford opens an issue of not only the ultimate ethics of modern corporations, but also to what extent the human error can be attributed to the corporate conspiracy, and when one has to feel oblige to act in ‘public interest’ although employed by a ‘private employer’. The seminar series will certainly shed more multidisciplinary light onto the issue of human error, that may have so many different facets. The central issue will be when the professional, regardless of the employment situation, is obliged to act in public interest - and if necessary – whistle blow.  Most recent quality standards (like ISQC1) do require a professional to reconsider his/her position, if the behaviour of the company or professional team does not act appropriately, in his/her professional opinion. Bringing professionals from different disciplines would certainly enable better understanding of all these nuances in professional responsibility and the need to make radical professional decisions.

Prof Thorsten Chmura

Areas of Interest: Experimental and Behavioural Economics, Psychology, Human Behaviour, Incentives in the workplace. 

"Peoples risk preferences and attitudes towards risk are getting more important in the field of economics. The interdisciplinary exchange about the topic risk in different fields of work, research and in life is essential for a better understanding of people’s behaviour. Experimental and behavioural economics delivers the tool to study preferences and decision-making under risk. Incentivised decisions enable us to get results in the field and in the laboratory. Risk preferences and perception differs among countries, cultures, gender, ages and income. The determination of risk influencing factors with other preferences sheds light on the decision-making process. For me the seminar series will give a deeper understanding in the interdisciplinary topic of risk“




More information


CRBFS, Nottingham University Business School

Jubilee Campus

telephone: +44 (0) 115 846 6607
fax: +44 (0) 115 8466686
email: jennifer.howis@nottingham.ac.uk