Beginning in the 1990s, the oil company BP promoted its “green” initiatives, which were designed to highlight the company’s environmental practices. It launched an alternative energy division and cut its own carbon emissions. It changed its name from British Petroleum to BP and adopted a new logo featuring a sun motif, called Helios, to suggest clean energy (Fonda, 2006); however, the positive publicity generated by these green activities has been obscured by a number of environmental disasters. In 2005, a refinery explosion in Texas City, Texas, killed 15 workers and injured many more. In 2006, an oil spill in Alaska released 200,000 gallons of crude oil into Prudhoe Bay (Fonda, 2006). And, in 2010, an offshore drilling platform exploded, killing 11 people and releasing an estimated four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico (Krauss & Meier, 2013). Compounding the damaging publicity, former employees and experts have blamed the accident on BP’s culture of placing profits above safety and risk (Krauss & Meier, 2013; Lustgarten, A., 2012).
As these tragic examples illustrate, even when companies adopt policies to promote ethical behavior, serious lapses can occur. If BP’s environmental initiatives had been embraced across the company, perhaps the operators of the Gulf rig would have balanced production demands with environmental and safety considerations.
As you review the article “Mental Models, Moral Imagination and System Thinking in the Age of Globalization,” (located in this week’s resources) consider how organizations apply these models. Think of a major, publicly traded company that interests you (domestic or international) and consider its ethics and sustainability policies, practices, and goals.
- A description of the organization you chose and one issue that you think it should improve upon with respect to its moral imagination and action and why
- Apply Werhane’s framework and explain how your application of moral imagination thinking could help bring positive change within the organization or its stakeholder context
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