26 September 2015

[Book] The first-ever ethnographic study of the global reinsurance industry

Be the first to share
Media
Business
Services
Social Issues

Making a Market for Acts of God: The Practice of Risk Trading in the Global Reinsurance Industry
By Paula Jarzabkowski, Rebecca Bednarek, and Paul Spee
Oxford Scholarship Online
April 2015

Abstract

Reinsurance is financial market trading in the risk of unpredictable and devastating disasters—e.g. Hurricane Katrina or the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami—that are increasing in frequency, severity, and cost. Reinsurance insures insurance companies, enabling them to pay claims arising from their losses; a market mechanism that provide a critical social and economic safety net.

To demonstrate how risk is calculated and traded globally, this book uses real-life tales from an ethnographic, “fly-on-the-wall” study of the global reinsurance industry over three annual cycles. Underwriters were shadowed around the world as they traded risks through multiple disasters. Readers witness the desperate hours of pricing Japanese risks during March 2011, while the devastating aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake is unfolding. There are authentic observations of reinsurers in Bermuda, London, Continental Europe, and South East Asia as they evaluate, price and compete for different risks during their everyday practice.

Understanding how this market for disasters works has never been more critical, given the impact of climate change and increased global connectivity, where a flood in one country can trigger losses to supply chains around the world. The book develops a novel concept of how global markets work, advancing scholarship and challenging current thinking about how financial markets trade in intangible assets such as risk.

Authors

Paula Jarzabkowski, Professor, Cass Business School, City University London
Rebecca Bednarek, Research Fellow, Cass Business School, City University London
Paul Spee, Senior Lecturer, Queensland University

Review

A reflection by Gillian Tett, Financial Times journalist and social anthropologist:

As consolidation has taken hold, this has cut sharply the number of players who handle reinsurance products — meaning that the sector now looks less like a diversified “market” than a club. And while the insurance companies say they want to “diversify” their risks, they are all doing this in exactly the same way — which produces less, not more, diversity.

Video

In this Insurance Institute of London lecture (April 2015), Professor Paula Jarzabkowski launched her book “Making a Market for Acts of God: The Practice of Risk-Trading in the Global Reinsurance Industry” which explains the practice of risk training in the global reinsurance industry today.

Be the first to share
4 April 2019
When ethnography becomes a joke
For a number of years, we have witnessed a diminishing appetite for ethnographic work among commercial clients, writes Patricia Sunderland, PhD and founder of Cultural Research and Analysis, on the site of the Qualitative Research …
24 February 2019
Ten arguments against algorithmic decision making
Against the Dehumanisation of Decision-Making – Algorithmic Decisions at the Crossroads of Intellectual Property, Data Protection, and Freedom of Information by Dr Guido Noto La Diega, Senior Lecturer in Law at the Northumbria University Law School Published …
16 February 2019
[Book] The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West
The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West by Payal Arora Harvard University Press, 2019 280 pages A digital anthropologist examines the online lives of millions of people in China, India, Brazil, and across the Middle East—home to …
20 January 2019
[Book] The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power Shoshana Zuboff Profile Books, 31 January 2019 704 pages The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of …
11 January 2019
[Book] Left to Our Own Devices
Left to Our Own Devices: Outsmarting Smart Technology to Reclaim Our Relationships, Health, and Focus Margaret E. Morris MIT Press, 2018 192 pages Unexpected ways that individuals adapt technology to reclaim what matters to them, from working through conflict …
4 January 2019
Why data is never raw
"Except in divine revelation, data is never simply given, nor should it be accepted on faith," writes Nick Barrowman in The New Atlantis. "How data are construed, recorded, and collected is the result of human …
1 January 2019
Daniel Kahneman on cutting through the noise
You might be surprised by what occupies Daniel Kahneman’s thoughts. “You seem to think that I think of bias all the time,” he tells esteemed economist Tyler Cowen. “I really don’t think of bias that …
22 December 2018
Intel anthropologist Dawn Nafus interview on the use of data and technology in medical contexts
In an age where we can collect and store (forEVER) every second of every day, how much do we truly need… to learn? To react? To do good deeds that benefit society? Assuming we champion that, …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

19 March 2019
Interested in a career with us?

Then we are interested in hearing from you. We have several positions available for talented UX/UI and service designers who are passionate about creating world-class user experiences. Please see the job descriptions on our website for more information, and send us your CV with a cover letter statement about yourself, your experience, and what UX […]

22 December 2018
Our very best wishes for 2019! / Auguri da Experientia!
4 October 2018
Bringing​ ​patients into focus at the Roche Innovation Summit

Experientia is proud to have been a key participant at the Roche Innovation Summit, held at Roche headquarters in Basel Switzerland on 19 June 2018. Themed “​Transforming the Healthcare Experience Together​”, the summit aimed to galvanize the Roche community around the future transformation of healthcare and diagnostics. With 800 attendees from Roche and Genentech global […]

13 June 2018
Invito: DesAlps design thinking workshop per la tua startup

Hai una startup? Hai mai pensato ai benefici che potrebbe trarre dal Design Thinking? Questa è l’opportunità per scoprirlo! DesAlps Workshop #2: Il Design Thinking per la tua startup! Giovedì 28 giugno 2018 – dalle 9:30 alle 17:00 @ I3P | Corso Castelfidardo 30/a, Torino —– Nell’ambito del progetto europeo DesAlps, un team di esperti […]

3 May 2018
Invito: DesAlps innovation workshop per le PMI del territorio piemontese

Experientia è lieta di invitare le piccole e medie imprese del territorio piemontese al: DesAlps Workshop #1: Il Design Thinking per le PMI Venerdì 18 maggio 2018 – dalle 9.00 alle 17.30 @ Rinascimenti Sociali | via Maria Vittoria 38, Torino Scopri i vantaggi che il Design Thinking può portare al tuo business per prepararvi […]

27 April 2018
Impact through Design – Event in Turin, Italy

(Scroll down for English) Come può il design generare impatto? In continuità con il summit International Days of Deans and Experts: Impact Through Design (Barcellona, aprile 2018) Torino ospita il primo evento dedicato alla prospettiva italiana sull’impatto generato attraverso il design in riferimento ai Sustainable Development Goals definiti dalle Nazioni Unite. Attori dell’ecosistema territoriale ed […]

See all articles