Identifying the risk culture of banks using machine learning

Abena Owusu, Aparna Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Although risk culture is a key determinant for an effective risk management, identifying the risk culture of a firm can be challenging due to the abstract concept of culture. This paper proposes a novel approach that uses unsupervised machine learning techniques to identify significant features needed to assess and differentiate between different forms of risk culture. Design/methodology/approach: To convert the unstructured text in our sample of banks' 10K reports into structured data, a two-dimensional dictionary for text mining is built to capture risk culture characteristics and the bank's attitude towards the risk culture characteristics. A principal component analysis (PCA) reduction technique is applied to extract the significant features that define risk culture, before using a K-means unsupervised learning to cluster the reports into distinct risk culture groups. Findings: The PCA identifies uncertainty, litigious and constraining sentiments among risk culture features to be significant in defining the risk culture of banks. Cluster analysis on the PCA factors proposes three distinct risk culture clusters: good, fair and poor. Consistent with regulatory expectations, a good or fair risk culture in banks is characterized by high profitability ratios, bank stability, lower default risk and good governance. Originality/value: The relationship between culture and risk management can be difficult to study given that it is hard to measure culture from traditional data sources that are messy and diverse. This study offers a better understanding of risk culture using an unsupervised machine learning approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-405
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Managerial Finance
Issue number2
StatePublished - 7 Mar 2024


  • Cluster analysis
  • Machine learning
  • Risk culture
  • Text mining


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