Shari R. Veil is Associate Professor and Director of the Risk Sciences Division, College of Communication and Information, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
British Petroleum: An Egregious Violation of the Ethic of First and Second Things
Article first published online: 3 SEP 2013
© 2013 Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University
Business and Society Review
Volume 118, Issue 3, pages 361–381, Fall 2013
How to Cite
Veil, S. R., Sellnow, T. L. and Wickline, M. C. (2013), British Petroleum: An Egregious Violation of the Ethic of First and Second Things. Business and Society Review, 118: 361–381. doi: 10.1111/basr.12014
- Issue published online: 3 SEP 2013
- Article first published online: 3 SEP 2013
This study analyzes BP's crisis communication related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Specifically, we observe how an organization whose priorities are misaligned with the ethic of first and second things has a severely limited capacity for delivering a crisis message that resonates with the general public, and especially those most affected by the disaster. Organizational connectedness and Lewis' essays on the ethic of first and second things are discussed and research on virtuous responses to crisis and renewal discourse is highlighted to explain how BP's focus on maximizing profit over safety and the environment stymied their communication efforts. A discourse of renewal is suggested as essential for the organization to regain connectedness post-crisis.