SYNOPSIS

Enterprise risk management (ERM) programs are an emerging component of managerial accounting that enable senior management to manage critical threats to the organization and identify strategic opportunities to exploit. A growing area of debate within ERM involves the extent to which risk reports should be assessed qualitatively or measured quantitatively (Risk and Insurance Management Society [RIMS] 2012). In many settings, quantitative reports are used and appear to be preferred due to their precision. Additional research suggests, however, that the directional nature of qualitative reports might fit better with senior management's cognitive expectations when considering strategic risks. We conduct an experiment that manipulates risk reporting format (quantitative versus qualitative) across both strategic and operational settings to examine their impact on risk management professionals' perceptions related to the preparer of the reports and the underlying quality of the information. We find that qualitative (quantitative) report information has a positive (negative) indirect association with managerial perceptions regarding strategic risk management activities. Specifically, in the strategic risk setting, the choice of format is directly associated with the perceived reliability and perceived relevance of the risk information. However, we do not find this relationship in the setting where risk reports focus on operational risks. These findings suggest that senior management favors qualitative information for strategic risks, whereas they are skeptical about quantitative measures for complex strategic risks.

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