Question 11

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Rajyashree Narayanareddy

Q11. How did banal social and organizational character of Unocal Corporation contribute to the silent spill in the Guadalupe? &34.,O47585LOO0 2LOOL43J,OO438414LOL394.0397,O,OL1473L,8*:,,O:50 L5424:308 polluting the ground water, beach, and other habitats. It is considered the largest oil spill in US history. %KL84LO85LOOL8.438L070,2,3-2,0L8,8907 -0.,:808,70;L0Z0,884.Lo-technical problems that involve social, organizational and technical processes. It is through the seemingly harmless organizational environment that this oil spill was created, left unacknowledged and denied. Diluents were first used and spilled in the oil fields as early as 1953 and went on for almost 40 years. Inter-organizational complicity: work systems regiment how workers relate to each other and their environment. Institutional assumptions were integrated into worker consciousness through daily enactment. In this way spill oil was considered unimportant. Organizations can shape the beliefs and values of their employees. In this way organizational actors (workers) are directed to perform based on organizational scripts (rules, protocols, routines). Dumping hundreds of gallons of diluent into the dunes, as long as it was one gallon at a time, was considered fine. Leaks became an expected part of a day in the life of oilfield workers. Unocal operated under a hierarchical seniority system. Fieldworkers relied on foremensupervisors for instruction, guidance and possible promotions. The presence of hierarchy is seen as the need to guide subordinates in their work. This has consequences, as strict hierarchies can decrease the sense of personal responsibility because it relieves people from responsibility of making decisions concerning what is socially right or wrong. Instead of reporting spills, fieldworkers turned to denial and secrecy. Supervisors were giving half-97:9K8ZKL.K1L0OZ47N078.K48094-0OL0;0-0.,:809K0L39want to lose their jobs by having the oilfield shutdown. %KL8.,:80,1472414:-O09KL3NZK070Z47N0789K4:JK99K,94LO85LOO8 were wrong only if they were responsible for the spill. In Unocal, the managers were seen as responsible. In seniority systems, new workers rely on those above them because they already did their jobs and learned how to manage and inform the new workers on how to perform field duties. Fieldworkers were not in a position to report spills outside of the hierarchy without breaking rank and risking sanctions. Maps of the oil spills kept by local field managers were found, but they were not reported. ,39K0 8 when the spill was very apparent some fieldworkers did report to their managers, but the managers ignored these reports. %K02,3,J078708L89,3.094705479L3JZ,8-0.,:80 these managers once workers in the oil fields, and were therefore seen as responsible for all the years of spillage that were not reported. 4Z077,3N0Z47N07889,06:L09-0.,:8041,97L5O0M045,7L19K0705479085LOO89K070Z,8, chance they will be personally associated with an offense, they would endanger their career because of ratting out coworkers and managers. #05479L3JZ4:O,110.99K05078438Z47NK4:78.K,3.041 promotion and even keeping their jobs. A chance of promotion meant people stayed quiet. A Culture of Silence: There is an existing sub-culture that normalized spills. Working at Unocal formed a worldview which normalized oil spills. Oil work has a strong fraternal work culture. Solidarity between oil workers was because work conditions required teamwork. This unity led to the cover up of spills, which became understandable, since reporting would threaten the entire workforce. The pressure to keep 9K04LO85LOO8,80.709Z,814:3,243J,OOZ47N0789K74:JK4:99K0889028KL07archy. The threat of the field shutting down, job loss and the social pressure to be quiet, caused workers not to report spills. By reporting, workers jeopardized themselves and their coworkers. These reasons were correct, because when the spills were publicized, the field shutdown. Inter-Organizational location: %K01L0O8897:.9:7,OL84O,9L4317424:98L0L390710703.0,3.47547,90 incentives, caused workers not to report spills. The reportage of spills had to go to the top of the corporation before it would be reported to authorities. The reporting usually stopped in the field because supervisors knew that reporting the spills meant financial and criminal problems. The field would shutdown, the fines were enormous ($5000-$50,000 a day per violation of negligence). Supervisors and 8:507L39030398Z4:OO480 8414OO,78L3-43:8089K,99K0Z0705,L1472009L3J.47547,90 expectations. The incentives to continue producing oil at the lowest costs, caused workers to promote oil production and not to report spills. 1
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