Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Kurt Loess

Thesis Professor Department

Management and Marketing

Thesis Reader(s)

Kelly Rhea-Price, Carrie Oliveira


This paper is a literature review and case study exploration of risk management at the organizational level in the outdoor whitewater recreation industry. The goal of the study is to identify any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the culture of contemporary risk management, and to make recommendations to address these weaknesses.

The case involves a situation in which I was personally involved, with an outcome that was tragic. In the light of what I have learned from this project I believe that a stronger risk culture would have resulted in a very different outcome. The distinction between risk culture and safety protocols will be addressed extensively in a discussion of risk clockspeed. One conclusion of this study is that effective risk management depends upon creating a risk culture that relies upon situation analysis in addition to developing stringent sets of safety protocols. The situation described in this paper involves a scenario where neither a risk culture nor adequate safety protocols existed, even though resources to solve problems were readily available.

The case involves two operations of the same company, a whitewater operation and a zipline operation. The literature provides conceptual tools and a larger context. I provide relevant information based on my direct involvement in the situation. The analysis and discussion focuses on an accident involving the shared resources of both operations. I will conclude by addressing how creating a risk culture and safety protocols can lead to a greater awareness that will help to prevent similar situations, and avoid similar outcomes, in the future.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.