Managing Public Opinion in a Crisis: BP CEO Tony Hayward

Published 28 Sep 2011
Reference 5816
Topic Strategy
Region Global
Summary

BP CEO Tony Hayward (UK) faced intense public scrutiny from many different constituencies in the US in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The case focuses on how his words and actions were perceived by the US media and government, and how these perceptions had critical business and personal outcomes.

Teaching objectives

Corporate leaders face the mounting challenge of having to inspire and motivate employees to achieve their business objectives, as well as external constituencies who do not perform economic transactions with the company, but can significantly influence its economic performance and leaders' legitimacy. The way in which Hayward's words and actions were perceived by these non-market constituencies, the outcome, and the conclusions to be drawn about managing such perceptions in a crisis bring into focus issues such as national politics, collective emotions, impression and symbolic management that many leaders fail to heed when managing a business.

Keywords
  • crisis
  • public perception
  • symbolic management
  • emotion
  • impression management
  • top management
  • national identities
  • politics
  • RD0911
  • AR1112
  • AR2011
  • Q11112
  • Corporate Governance
  • Board Process and Remuneration at the Top
  • European Competitiveness
  • Europe