Is ‘Black swans’ a useful concept?

‘Black swans’ should as a concept in a risk management context be reserved for “unknown unknowns”. The wider definitions adopted by some other authors may be misleading and give unwanted effects.

The other phenomena are important, but classifying them as ‘black swans’ is counterproductive with respect to improvement of risk management. A couple of cases are briefly described in order to illustrate some possible unwanted effects.

Oil companies have on the other hand neglected the uncer­tainty aspects in risk management for a long time, focus on these aspects is important. These are the main messages in a recent paper, available online at the end of December 2014.


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