"Political Risk," Condoleezza Rice and Amy Zegart, Twelve, 321 pages, $30.
Facebook fails to stop wide misuse of user data. Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian. United Airlines violently removes passenger from overbooked seat. Purdue Pharma is criticized for lax oversight of opioid distribution. It’s our daily corporate kaleidoscope. Companies fumble their missions and instantly become objects of virally spread public ridicule, political condemnation and sometimes, eventually, government regulation.
For businesses, this social-media-fueled cycle is a modern challenge of the phenomenon known as political risk. For the past six years, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and fellow Stanford University business Prof. Amy Zegart have jointly taught a course that explores the ever-shifting nature of political risk and how companies can cope. They have now turned their class into an engaging, practical handbook for thinking about these issues, “Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity.”
Both offer intriguing perspectives. Zegart, a professor of political economy, worked in government and for the business consultancy McKinsey & Co. Rice brings insights not just from the boardrooms of corporate giants she’s served but from the Situation Room of the White House.
The book does an excellent job of laying out concisely how to anticipate, assess, respond to and mitigate the impact of political risk — from federal government actions to internet vulnerability. Top of the list is being brutally honest about the risks you face, a tough task for most big organizations.