BP’s cultural failings

June 9th, 2010  |  Source: Financial Times

In the storm of public and political fury that has hit BP in the US since the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20, the company’s shortage of native knowledge of America and how it responds to crisis has been painfully exposed.

The accident, which killed 11 men and risks the livelihoods of millions, would always have threatened BP’s future in the US. But a series of cultural misunderstandings has made its position more difficult.

The US accounts for about a quarter of BP’s production, almost a third of its reserves and more than half its refining capacity and retail outlets, according to analysts at ING.

Yet in spite of the country’s importance, BP is short of Americans in senior roles. Tony Hayward, the chief executive who has become the lightning rod for American anger, is British, as are the heads of its two main operating businesses and Andrew Gowers, head of media, a former editor of the Financial Times.

Brunswick, BP’s public relations consultancy, although well staffed with high-powered Americans, is a British firm. 

Full story on FT.com (subscription required)

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