Managing competition risk: a critical realist philosophical exploration

Udechukwu Ojiako, Alasdair Marshall, Michelle Luke, Max Chipulu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As firms act to meet competitive challenges, they separately vary their expo-sure to objectively real risks, and their subjective risk perceptions. Hence the 'fit' between each firm's subjective risk map and its objective 'riskscape' is in constant flux. Realist thought, which emphasizes the separateness of mind from external reality, and sets itself the slow and painstaking task of improving the fit between the two, is therefore universally relevant for risk management. This simple 'risk realism' has value for academics wishing to analyse risk management practice and can provide useful working assumptions and procedural guidelines for practitioners. Mindful of both uses, this paper utilizes the philosophical thesis of critical realism to develop ontological and epistemological standpoints that relate specifically to what we call 'competition risk'. Working from these standpoints we develop parallels between business and military engagements with competi-tion risk. We explore what we treat as ontologically indistinct competition risk issues present across both contexts and conclude that firms can learn much from how the military deals with both 'regular' and 'irregular' forms of competition risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-149
Number of pages20
JournalCompetition and Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • firms
  • military
  • risk
  • competition
  • critical realism
  • learning
  • ethics


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