Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics Theses

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

December 2008


Submitted to the Program of Organizational Dynamics in the Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania

Advisor: Keith Hornbacher


This thesis examines the theory of human behavior towards risk and uncertainty in addition to the psychological effects they have on the managerial decision-making process. Analysis indicates that risk often produces a negative reaction in individuals, which ultimately ends in avoidance. I describe how our responses to risk are often influenced by heuristic biases, psychometric paradigms, and emotional literacy. These influences form the attitudes that become mental hurdles to approaching risk objectively and proactively. The collective attitudes within organizations contribute to the overall risk culture. This thesis identifies competencies required to establish a mature risk culture which is the critical foundation for implementing risk management best practices. Once the foundation is in place, there are formal methodologies to proactively identify areas of uncertainty and provide qualitative and quantitative assessments. The objective is to provide managers the proper tools to develop sound responses to risk based upon objective analysis of facts in lieu of distorted biases. A proactive approach in seeking out risk instills the confidence in managers to manage risk effectively.



Date Posted: 27 March 2009