The Role of Organizational Behavior in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the Changes Made


The case study chosen for the report is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that discharged huge volumes of oil in the Gulf of Mexico resulting in economical and environmental damage as different stakeholders including fishermen, wildlife, tourism businessmen and the oil industry were affected. The spill resulted in negative reputation experienced by BP as the spill was attributed to negative behavior among some of the employees at BP. This paper will be an annotated bibliography and will cover different aspects including corporate social responsibility, disclosure, risk management and employee behavior in organizations. Through this, there will be a better understanding on how organizational behavior led to the oil spill and the organizational changes that have been made at BP and other companies to prevent recurrence of such a spill.


Kurtz, R.S. (2013). Oil spill causation and the Deepwater Horizon spill. The Review of Policy

Research, 30(4), pp. 366-380.

This article by Kurtz asks the question of who was to blame for the spill. In addition, Kurtz also asks if such a catastrophic spill can happen anywhere in the future. Through analysis, Kurtz asserts that the Deepwater Horizon spill affected due to avoidable factors and shortcomings which have been seen in other spills. Among the shortcomings include policy imperfections, weak regulatory regime, organizational deviance and deficiencies in inter-organizational structure. It can be seen that employees at BP were operating without laying much emphasis to safety and security. Some of the decisions which are considered inappropriate, risky or ethically questionable were considered as viable within the organization. Due to the weak regulatory environment, some of the decisions were not challenged by law enforcers (Kurtz, 2013).

Skogdalen, J.E., Utne, I.B. & Vinnem, J.E. (2011). Developing safety indicators for preventing

offshore oil and gas deepwater drilling blowouts. Safety Science, 49(9), pp. 1187-1199.

This article by Skogdalen, Utne & Vinnem (2011) seeks to answer the question of whether the oil spill was a result of systematic failure in the deepwater drilling industry. In this article, the authors assert that there were different levels of failure that resulted in the oil spill. The levels include: work and technological system, the staff level, the management level, the company level, the regulators and association level and the government level. It can be seen that most of the levels do include the behavior exhibited by BP and how the company did not consider the issue of safety during the process. The authors recommend that more research should be done to determine indicators that can be used to ensure safety to prevent occurrence of such spills in future.

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