The Manager's Job at BP: Decision Making and Responsibilities on the High Seas
International Journal of Case Studies in Management, 2013, Vol. 11, No. 2, 1-32
31 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2013 Last revised: 21 Jun 2013
Date Written: October 15, 2012
The teaching case takes a look at the recent history of the oil major BP. It contains two storylines: Part A is about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010, its physical and financial consequences, and how it was perceived by the public, especially political representatives. The first section provides comprehensive information on the oil spill and the preceding explosion on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon. This event in particular and BP’s safety performance in general were treated in numerous U.S. Congress hearings, to which also BP’s CEO Tony Hayward was summoned. Two sections on “The Hearing”, which are based on original protocols, illustrate Hayward’s inability (or unwillingness) to answer crucial questions on safety and risk management and decision making at BP. Additionally, Part B provides further background information on the company. Three sections present milestones between 2000 and 2009, with a focus on the “beyond petroleum” campaign. Readers learn of BP as a complex business group that tried to re-define itself after one century of corporate history. Former CEO Lord Browne gave BP the “beyond petroleum” identity and in his term BP Alternative Energy was founded. But he left the company because of a private scandal. Despite this re-branding and improved business performance, Tony Hayward, Lord Browne’s successor, was exposed to fierce critique and accused of greenwashing.
Accepted for publication by the International Journal of Case Studies in Management. The final case version as well as teaching notes for lecturers will be available on the journal website.
Keywords: teaching case study, British Petroleum, BP, Tony Hayward, oil and gas industry, Gulf of Mexico, Deepwater Horizon, oil spill, renewable energy, sustainability, environment, beyond petroleum, management, corporate responsibility, strategic management, business model, greenwashing, CSR
JEL Classification: Q40, Q42, Q20, Q25, M10, O30, A22, A23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation