Dec 29, 2008

Youth, Risk and the Virtual Realm

High risks can reap high rewards, but they can also end in costly failure. So should employers welcome or shun risk-takers? Research has shown that Generation Y has a seemingly high risk profile. For example, Beck & Wade (2006) observe that online game-players are strongly encouraged to take risks, with trial and error seen the best strategy for success. They also argue that risk aversion accrues with age, following an increasing number of unpleasant experiences following failure.

So does this make Generation Y a liability to employers? While the evidence suggests that this population is naive around risk in the real world, it is important to observe Generation Y’s approach to risk-taking. An oft-used strategy for success, game-players mitigate risk by ensuring a transparent flow of information through the team and distribute responsibility amongst the other players according to their skill sets.

This demonstrates that, in order to succeed as a team, online game-players must take individual accountability for their actions and the risks they take. This implies a level of understanding, perhaps by even the youngest players, of responsibility distribution as an effective risk management strategy.

Indeed, the virtual world is not the same as the physical realm, in which Generation Y may not have the experience of older generations, but their risk-facing attitude combined with a strategic understanding of risk mitigation learned from online games could reap big rewards for businesses too.

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