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BP and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill - Essay Example

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BP and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill It would not only be arrogant but also foolish to attempt to single out one item as the root cause of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill disaster. Firstly, there are four parties who are arguably blameworthy for this catastrophe…
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Download file to see previous pages Secondly, there is the complex management structure at the site as BP, Halliburton and Transocean never seemed to be fully in synch with each other (Roberto 10-12). Thirdly, there is BP’s own internal complexity. On the basis of the case it could be argued that BP and the other parties involved exploited this complexity to downplay business ethics. With business ethics out of the way, BP continued to make a series of bad decisions that have eventually led to this disaster. In general, there are two kinds of complexity: an inevitable or naturally occurring one and a self-generated or unnecessary one. With the former one has to come to terms with, while the latter needs to be addressed. This disaster could have been avoided if all four parties had tackled the self-generated complexity. However, as we believe, they did not do so because they chose not to take into account the possible effects of their decisions on other stakeholders. They were only concerned with their bottom lines. Proof for this is shown in Exhibit 3. The exhibit highlights nine crucial decisions regarding the Macondo that were made with the view of saving time and lowering cost at the expense of more utilitarian alternatives (Roberto 19). Business ethics includes principles and values used to conduct the activities of an organization and manage the workforce. Business ethics raise the question of decisions to be made when one faces moral or ethical problems. One of the theories often used to explain business ethics is the principle of utilitarianism. According to utilitarianism, one’s obligation or duty in any situation is to perform the action that will result in the greatest possible balance of good over evil. Utilitarianism calls for considering the interests of everyone before taking a decision. Decisions by BP – as when the company dismissed Schlumberger personnel before they could perform cement testing, and other decisions shown in Exhibit 3 – were clearly taken with only the interests of the company in sight. This question of ethics and utilitarian principle seems to bedevil BP more than the other parties. One could argue that the oil rig operator and Halliburton chose to lower their standards or cede to BP’s demands even where they had doubts because they cared more about their paychecks than the possible cost of the outcome in case of an incident. In a way, these providers opted for a higher-risk operation in order to retain BP as a client regardless of having misgivings. BP, though, seems to have had a history of repeat disasters, with its management doing little to prevent them from occurring. For example, BP’s failure to correct sufficiently the problems at its Texas City refinery even after receiving recommendations from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration demonstrates disregard for business ethics (Roberto 7). Lastly, it is also evident that BP’s leadership lacked both tact and sensitivity, two critical attributes for a leader who believes and practices the principles of utilitarianism. Senior leadership has a lot of bearing on the attitude, behavior and manners adopted by the rest of the staff. Tony Hayward’s decision to go yachting with his son at the height of the crisis and to issue a late and half-hearted apology avows whose interests he considers more important. The staff looks up to the leaders and mimics them. Company men are especially vulnerable to this because they are more engrained into the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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