Risks Worth Taking: How Businesses Decide, and Why They Often Choose Poorly

MIT Sloan School of Management

Arnold Barnett is the George Eastman Professor of Management Science and a Professor of Statistics at the MIT Sloan School of Management. His early work on homicide was presented to President Gerald Ford at the White House, and his analysis of U.S. casualties in Vietnam was the subject of a column by William F. Buckley. He has written op-ed pieces for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and USA Today. Professor Barnett received the President’s Award and the Expository Writing Award from INFORMS in 1996 and in 2001. Cited as “the nation’s leading expert on aviation safety,” Barnett was recognized with the 2002 President’s Citation from the Flight Safety Foundation for “truly outstanding contributions on behalf of safety.” MIT Sloan students have honored him on 10 occasions for outstanding teaching.


Describing, accommodating, and even exploiting risk are central to the modern workings of society. But measuring risk sensibly and devising strategies to cope with it, pose formidable practical and intellectual challenges. Here we discuss several risk analyses on subjects ranging from Business Analytics to personal health and safety. The talk is meant to be self-contained, meaning that there are no prerequisites in Mathematics or Economics.



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