The risk reporting culture according to middle management in a South African public higher education institution
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Public higher education institutions in South Africa fulfil three main mandates: teaching and learning, research, and community engagement. As the demands on the country’s higher education institutions have increased over the years, risk management has become a central responsibility for all employees, particularly those at middle management level, as this group is responsible for executing strategy into operations. There is limited literature on risk reporting culture focusing on higher education institutions and the role of middle management in risk reporting, particularly in South Africa. The objective of the present study, therefore, was to explore the risk reporting culture according to middle management in a South African public higher education institution. This qualitative study was based on 12 semi-structured interviews with purposively selected middle management participants. Interviews were conducted during the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, which did not allow face-to-face meetings. Microsoft Teams was used as the preferred method for virtual communication in the institution under study. The interviews were video recorded and later transcribed for purposes of data analysis using coding and then thematic analysis. Four key themes were identified in the study. The findings showed a high degree of alignment between the literature on risk reporting and the reporting by middle management at the institution under study. This appears to demonstrate that risk management reporting is fully embedded into the organisational business processes and operations.