[We’re pleased to welcome authors Amit Mitra and Nicholas O’Regan of the University of the West of England. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Creative Leadership Within the Cyber asset Market: An Interview With Dame Inga Beale” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivations and challenges of their research:]
What motivated you to pursue this research?
As the world is becoming more reliant on digital technologies, the nature of risk is changing. Traditional insurers need new metrics and new ways to assess risk as organisations today are gradually converting their physical assets into their digital equivalents. So, within such a changing scenario, I was encouraged by Inga Beale’s conscious attempt at developing a novel approach to estimating risk. In an industry where technology is pervasive, preserving the social purpose in a technology led organisation like Lloyds of London seemed hitherto unknown. While issues like climate change, urbanisation, and online vulnerabilities seem unconnected yet if leaders like Inga are able to visualise a bigger picture, that factors in some of the abiding anxieties of groups in society that are looking for insurance cover, then Lloyds would be better at catering to these client expectations. My interest has been motivated by this ‘social purpose’ of technology articulated by Inga Beale. Second, an inclusive inter-connected visualisation of contributing factors of risk and its global ramifications is also another facet that has encouraged my interest in this research.
Were there any specific external events – political, social, or economic – that influenced your decision to pursue this research?
Frequency of cyber-attacks and how such attacks impact on populations that are reliant on digital assets is a key driver that encouraged my overall curiosity to pursue this research. Inga Beale mentioned the consequences of severe attacks such that 12.4million people could lose their jobs in the United States alone if cloud assets were attacked. So, the cost of risk that is embedded in loss of digital assets far exceeds physical assets like building infrastructure. Given the frequency of cyber-attacks on digital assets held by organisations that has led to the compromise of customer confidence and damaging financial losses, I was not sure that traditional ways of using technology to deal with technology risk could lead to an abiding solution.
What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?
The focus of the research being creative leadership in the cyber asset market it was difficult to find parallels of similar leadership styles within extant literature. In many ways the type of leadership of Dame Inga Beale was unique in context, process and content. Contextually the insurance market is different from traditional businesses being fraught with risk and a surfeit of different kinds of estimation. Processes are also unique as the asset structure of companies have been changing significantly from physical to knowledge or digital assets. Content of this leadership style was punctuated by an inclusive paradigm of locating risk as enunciated in society’s existential anxieties. So, evaluating this peerless nature of the leadership style was a challenging undertaking.
Creative and innovative leadership has traditionally focused on man management, financial nous, implementation of new technology, and the like. Finding a social purpose of implementing technology as propounded by Dame Inga Beale was indeed a surprising finding. h
As part of a larger project in which we have been examining a range of issues around age and work, we were keen to explore a particular label (the Weary) that we observed in our data (online media texts). Weary was an acronym standing for ‘Working Entrepreneurial and Active Retirees’. It appeared in an insurance company report and was said to refer to those too old to get paid jobs, too poor to retire and therefore needing to earn money through entrepreneurial activity.
The label was immediately intriguing to us because of the inherent tensions it represented. The acronym has negative connotations in a way that the full title arguably does not. Also the title juxtaposes two traditionally mutually exclusive identities: working and retired, and introduces a third, the potentially problematic neoliberal identity of entrepreneur.