Leadership theory and practice via an account of BP’s Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.

Leadership theory and practice via an account of BP’s Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.

Upon reading the Financial Times article of July 15, 2010 on BP’s oil spill please address the following:

  1. (500 words/6 marks) Briefly describe the kinds of moral accountability issues inherent (explicit or implied) in the article, specifically from several perspectives (choose 2 from the following):
    1.   A BP rig operator (on a platform other than that which exploded).
    1. A 25-year-old postgraduate university student from a township on the Gulf of Mexico – choice of their academic study is yours.
    1.  A UK based retiree with a major income stream from BP shares.

In other words, what do you imagine might be major concerns for these individuals – in terms of impacts on them and beyond? While acknowledging financial implications please do not confine yourself to this one dimension – you need to imagine wider perspectives.

  • Based on the above
    • (300 words/4 marks) Briefly describe and explain what YOU consider to be 2-3 major leadership issues of vital importance for BP’s future? These issues may be ideas about some tensions you perceive between conflicting interests between stakeholders – matters not readily resolved. Alternatively they may be tensions/concerns you see between BP’s espoused policies and the events before and or surrounding the Gulf oil spill.


  • (1200 words/20 marks) Drawing on YOUR critical assessment of leadership theories to date make an argument for how to change the practice of senior BP managers in responding to public critiques of their actions in the Gulf spill. In doing this, you need to assume the role of a coach to senior BP managers.

NOTE: Of central concern in #2 here are matters NOT of public relations (P.R.) and “spin” but of moral accountability to multiple stakeholders – ie your view of what BP’s senior management NEED to do to demonstrate they (as individuals) understand the links between leadership and moral accountability to those stakeholders. Thus what is needed specifically in part 2(b) of the essay is a structured argument – shaped as YOUR coaching approach to change the practice of BP’s most senior leaders informed by relevant academic literature. You need to consider the difficulties/issues that might stop/prevent organisations, such as BP, from engaging into responsible practices, and suggest how these might be overcome. Please note: there is not a quick-fix solution available for such problems so develop your argument appropriately. Do not suggest naïve, unrealistic quick-fixes. In so doing you will also be illustrating YOUR deepening personal and critical awareness of the theoretical and practical limitations/possibilities in the leadership/coaching/mentoring literature you’ve addressed to this stage. Half the marks of part 2 (b) – ie 10% will be focused on how well you demonstrate a critical awareness of the literature (for example your reading of tensions, contradictions, gaps, bias in what you’ve read). Merely describing the literature (“Smith says, Jones says” etc) will result in major loss of marks.


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