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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Decoupling Responsibility from Power: The Case of Transocean in the BP Disaster

With much power comes implicit responsibility. Hence, on February 21, 2011, the world recoiled when Gaddafi violently turned on his own people--using his power sans responsibility in a selfish attempt to stay in power. So too, the world had been shocked in April, 2010 when BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico and that the Gulf itself was at risk. That a company could ruin something as big as the Gulf of Mexico came as a surprise to many. That a company, or three in this case, could have minimized such a risk by, for example, sending the U.S. Government contingency plans on Gulf clean up that included rescuing sea animals that actually live in the Artic, shocked the public just as much. How could people holding such power treat its use with such carelessness concerning any downside?  The defense of having followed company policy or having excuted business procedures pales in comparison with the societal demand that power, whether public or private, be handled responsibly.  In other words, people take it for granted that power is given to adults rather than to children.  I think we would be surprised how often this has not been the case.  The case of Transocean demonstrates this thesis.