Managing black swan uncertainty: A grounded theory examination of portfolio managers' assessment of unknown risk

by Davis, Howard P., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2014, 199 pages; 3609144


The primary purpose of this qualitative, grounded theory research was to examine complexity, chaos, and catastrophe theories in connection with black swan risk identification and assessment and portfolio management that would determine areas where theory could be expanded to account for the actual practices of portfolio/project managers. As a result of interview data collected from a total of ten project and portfolio managers in oil and gas, medical, and aerospace industries, five key findings emerged. Relationships between the findings suggest that as the degree of complexity increases in a system, the diversity and involvement of emerging technology and risk experts must also increase. In addition, formal processes like industry regulations, management of change, and phased gated reviews tend to drive consistency in risk identification and assessment practices. The research data indicates that the dependency on these organizational characteristics establishes and sustains a firm's culture for how its leaders pursue black swan risk identification and assessment.

The findings led to enhancements in complexity, chaos, and catastrophe theories. The study provided researchers with rationale to pursue additional qualitative or mixed method studies regarding the relationships between complexity science theories, risk management, and portfolio management. In addition, it provided portfolio and project practitioners with justification to identify and assess the low likelihood, unknown catastrophic risks in emerging technology complex systems using qualitative methods. Although the focus on this research was on complex systems involving new technology, complex systems that incur significant or recurring changes are also targets for future research.

AdviserCharlotte Neuhauser
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsBusiness administration; Management
Publication Number3609144

About ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
With nearly 4 million records, the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT) Global database is the most comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses in the world. It is the database of record for graduate research.

PQDT Global combines content from a range of the world's premier universities - from the Ivy League to the Russell Group. Of the nearly 4 million graduate works included in the database, ProQuest offers more than 2.5 million in full text formats. Of those, over 1.7 million are available in PDF format. More than 90,000 dissertations and theses are added to the database each year.

If you have questions, please feel free to visit the ProQuest Web site - - or contact ProQuest Support.