The BP Crisis: A Novel Case Study Approach

The BP Crisis: A Novel Case Study Approach
Professor David Grayson and Dr David Denyer
Steve Macaulay Looking at the BP oil crisis has provoked all sorts of lessons and we want to
make sure that we cover this from a number of perspectives.
First of all, David Grayson, you have been putting together an active case
David Grayson
Yes; in the Doughty Centre we are part of something called the GERN
network – the Global Education and Research Network – and with colleagues
from around the world we did a kind of instant mini case and teaching note.
But we are now expanding that because, as we have been talking to
colleagues at Cranfield – David and many others, of course, we have
discovered that the issues of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and what it
means, not just for BP, but what it means for companies and societies more
broadly, has implications in terms of corporate strategy, risk management,
crisis management, how you engage stakeholders, responsible leadership. It
has implications in terms of corporate governance, the role of the board
through the crisis – before and thereafter. Questions around where does
Beyond Petroleum – the whole kind of corporate commitment that the
previous CEO Lord Browne introduced. All of those different facets.
So we are producing a multi layered case, which we are trying to do in a
rather different way to the conventional way of writing business schools
cases because it is open sourcing – it is real time – and we are trying to
produce it on a collaborative basis. Not just with our own faculty colleagues,
but also inviting contributions from alumni and other partners – and indeed,
from people around the world.
We have been doing interviews already and one of the things we have been
thinking about is how do we make sense of all of the information; how do we
avoid it going off in so many different directions? And that is why David
Denyer has been doing some thinking around the framework that we might
be able to use to pull all this together.
Steve Macaulay So David, let’s hear from you.
David Denyer
I think is an exciting opportunity to get involved in producing a real world
case, in real time, collaboratively and coming at it from multiple perspectives.
Typically in academia we look at an issue through a single lens; so economists
would see it one way, people in finance would see it a different way,
organisational psychologists would see it in an entirely different way.
What we are trying to do is integrate all of those perspectives; to have one
case which really details the events over time. So we are trying to add a
temporal element to this – looking at the sequence of events as they
unfolded: prior to the event, the event itself and then post event. So we are
looking at it temporally, but we are also looking at it at multiple levels. We
are looking at the individual level: who were the key individuals involved and
Professor David Grayson and Dr David Denyer
what were the pressures and influences on their behaviour? We are looking
at the teams and groups involved actually on the Deep Water Horizon. And
then BP as an organisation, and then beyond that, its relationship with other
institutions – so the institutional context. And then broader, looking at some
of the influences from the economic situation, the technological changes, the
societal changes, cultural changes, political influences on the organisation.
So we are looking at it from a multiple level and temporally. We are hoping
that that will enable people from their different schools of thought, different
perspectives, to all contribute something to really build a deep understanding
of this case.
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