Researching the psychology of risk management

Issued by North West University
North-West, May 22, 2019

Professor Marise Born has become the latest recruit to North-West University's (NWU's) Optentia research space, joining a group of extraordinary professors.

Born is a professor in industrial psychology at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. Her impressive CV mentions her role as extraordinary professor in industrial and personnel psychology at the Free University in Amsterdam.

Her research interests include personnel selection, cross-cultural psychology, test development and assessment, big data and algorithms in psychological assessment, and personality and individual differences.

She recently gave a lecture in South Africa on risk management, incorporating organisational leadership and culture. Born looked at the issues affecting risk management and how these relate to individual differences between people.

"If we talk about organisational risk issues or risk culture, there are relevant aspects related to differences between individuals that must be taken into account," she said.

She gave examples of factors that require new research, and explained that individual differences meant people had different ways of coping with life events, which was highly influential on an organisation's culture.

Born believes that along with organisational culture, it is also important to focus on researching the differences between individuals who play important roles within an organisation. "For instance, individual differences in terms of personality and values could influence risk accountability," she said.

Born describes herself as interdisciplinary-oriented person, and says economic viewpoints are a big driver for her research.

"We know that that the university's Centre for Applied Risk Management is doing a lot of research in the South African context. From the standpoint of research in industrial psychology, this is immensely important," she said.

Born said the data sets used in international books and journal articles are insufficient because the information collected originates only from Western countries, in Europe and North America.

"When it comes to risk management, individual differences are relevant in the South African context. Some research must be done in risk-taking propensity and how this may affect risk behaviour in the South African context. A lot of research has been done in other parts of the world, which may be generalised to some parts of society in SA, but certainly not to all," said Born.

Born has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has advised more than 20 PhD students. She is currently chairs the board of the Dutch Foundation for Psychotechnics.