Managing risk in the context of strategic planning: A grounded theory approach to Multinational Companies in China

  • Tian Zhou

Student thesis: Phd


The adoption of risk management during strategic planning has been positioned as a value-adding process for organisations. However, the consideration of risk during the strategic planning process is overlooked. There is a call for a deep investigation of risk consideration during the strategic planning process. This thesis brings together the fields of risk management and strategic planning, an overlap that is particularly underdeveloped in the extant literature. Current research has argued that strategic risk management is the integration of risk management and strategic management which address risk and strategy together for decision-making. However, there is a limitation on the understanding of the complex dynamics of risk management activities and interactions relating to the risk phenomena of strategic planning while developing scenarios during the strategic planning phase. In response to this dilemma, this thesis aims to provide insight into how practitioners manage risk in the context of strategic planning. Adopting a grounded theory approach by Strauss & Corbin in 1990 & 1998, rich qualitative data were collected through documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews with practitioners from 23 multinational companies in China. Through the development of a conceptual framework, the research has discovered that, whilst operating within the Chinese context, risk is managed within two levels by a loop of the same four activities. Moreover, in addition to context evaluation and risks being identified and assessed, risk tolerance is revealed as the center of the proposed framework which is as a link between the ‘corporate strategy development’ level and the ‘unit business planning’ level for developing and shaping the final scenarios. It is also demonstrated that individuals tend to transpose their risks to the organisation while the organisation leans towards sharing risks with other organisations. As a result, this research provides theoretical and practical contributions to secure the efficiency of risk management within strategic planning.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMargaret Emsley (Supervisor) & Francis Fenn (Supervisor)


  • risk tolerence
  • multinational company
  • risk management
  • strategic planning
  • China

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