Self-inflicted disasters
: moral disengagement in unconventional risk, crisis and disaster management strategy

  • Oluwasoye Patrick Mafimisebi

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The impacts of unconventional risks and crises on organisation survival have shifted the focus not just to risk and crisis management but also on business continuity and organisational resilience. At the same time, the effectiveness of current risk and crisis management models or strategies in dealing with unconventional risks and crises remain a challenge, not least due to the regular re-occurrence of similar events. However, this thesis contends that the value of existing models of risk and crisis management is overestimated, resulting in risk underestimation and the same issues becoming evident, repeatedly.

    This thesis calls for need to subjecting risk/crisis management theories and models to more rigorous testing and re-evaluation against reality. Two significant unconventional crises were analysed within the context of risk/crisis management literature. It was found that moral disengagement is responsible for the difficulties in managing the response to each of the incidents. At the root of most organisational crises, ethical dilemmas underpin the decisionmaking of leaders and organisational members which are suggested to have initiated a chain of events leading to those crises. It is argued that an awareness of selective risk perception, crisis miscommunication, inflated ethical business practice, trust deficit, organised corporate irresponsibility and moral disengagement is crucial towards improving the management of the Niger Delta crises and similar incidents in future. The thesis also found that issues of moral disengagement mechanisms are responsible for generating competing constructions of unconventional risks, crises and disasters.

    This thesis demonstrated that moral disengagement mechanisms weaken or destroy established approaches to mitigating and managing risks and crises; facilitate sanctionable behaviours in risk, crisis and disaster situations without self-condemnation; and help to maintain high moral self-image even in obviously detrimental and unethical conducts. It was argued that part of the reason for this was that organisations did not consider a link between moral disengagement and risk/crisis management to determine whether organisational crises are self-inflicted or within organisational risk appetite before escalation. This conceptualisation of moral disengagement contributes to better understanding of risk and crisis evolution and the wider implications for organisational resilience and growth. Of importance was the recognition that decision-based model of risk and crisis management could have address each of the issues that were identified in the case studies. The research implications and limitations were carefully discussed.
    Date of AwardSept 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorSara Hadleigh-Dunn (Supervisor) & Andreas Hoecht (Supervisor)

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