Lingnan University dismissals fail to meet risk management standards

Hong Kong’s public universities seem to be paying more attention to risk management than ever before. Risk is part of life - air crashes, financial meltdown and global pandemics are all potential risks.

Risk management – which includes identifying, assessing and controlling potential threats – is therefore necessary for an organisation to protect its reputation, capital and business. However, an organisation’s risk management decisions must be convincing.

Lingnan University recently sacked two of its professors but did not elaborate on the reasons for terminating their employment (“Hong Kong’s Lingnan University terminates 2 professors who previously criticised government”, October 2). One of the professors said he was told he was let go as part of risk management.

If true, such a risk management decision would be a unilateral decision that fails to provide a clear answer to the question of who or what is at risk, which is a core inquiry in handling risks.

As risk-bearers, everyone in the university campus should be engaged in the decision-making process of risk management, not just the management team. University managers are limited by their own knowledge and capacity to identify, assess and control potential threats. As a result, they could overlook the potential damage of their decision, such as reputational damage to the university, decreased morale of faculty members and a weakened sense of belonging among students and alumni.

Good risk management should allow all risk-bearers to become stakeholders, recognise and respect each one’s risk perception and risk experience and regard it as a source of knowledge and a reference for action.

Similar to stakeholder engagement, all risk-bearers should jointly participate in the decision-making of risk management and fine-tune the risk indicators to accommodate personal experience.


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