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Risk communication and culture in banking: What has changed since the global financial crisis?

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posted on 27.04.2022, 15:25 by David McNulty

This thesis was inspired by the events of, and subsequent responses to the global financial crisis of 2008. In analysing these, it takes a specific interest in the communication and culture of systemically important banks. In particular, it seeks to assess the development of the risk communication of such banks, both as a ‘standalone’ contributory factor in the crisis’ formation, but also crucially for its value as an indicator of underlying culture in banking. 

The work is comprised of four main chapters. Its initial aim is to assess the overall response to the crisis by comparing its various identified causes with the measures that have subsequently been taken to address them. This assessment is contained in the thesis first major chapter; a substantial literature review that explores the crisis at a general level, and more specifically how a selection of its major causal factors have been addressed in the post-crisis period. The results guide the thesis in the direction of risk communication and industry culture, as factors that should have underpinned industry robustness to many of the difficulties encountered. 

The thesis next aims to assess the development of the public communication, and specific risk communication, of global systemically important banks. This involves a comparative analysis of a dataset comprising of 129 annual report documents. The research first measures and compares overall communication volumes before and after the crisis. It then extracts and measures the risk-specific content of this communication. This finds bank communication to have increased substantially by volume at both the headline and risk-specific levels since the occurrence of the crisis. Further, it finds risk-specific communication to have increased as a proportion of the wider annual report document. 

This line of inquiry is continued in the second empirical chapter, as the risk-specific communication extracted from the wider dataset is examined in further detail. This involves the performance of word-count analyses, again making comparison of practice before and after the crisis. This facilitates comparison among individual risk subsets, and judgement over whether any of the major crisis-related issues might remain potentially under-addressed in the post-crisis era. Ultimately, despite the previously identified substantial volume increases, little change is observed in the relative content of post-crisis risk communication when compared to the pre-crisis period. 

The final research chapter is based around an original, semi-structured interview study with 11 senior industry professionals, seeking further insights into how the major causes of the crisis have been addressed in the years since it occurred. Specifically, it seeks end-user viewpoints on the effectiveness of post-crisis risk communication in the industry and the extent of general post-crisis progress. Among other insights, it establishes a substantial level of industry agreement with the academic view of industry culture as a contributing factor in the formation of the global financial crisis.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business


Loughborough University

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© David A. McNulty

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.




Alistair Milne ; Karligash Glass

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