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Steve Freeman

The real winner in this scenario is surely Lord Brown, the previous CEO--even though he was forced out over a personal scandal. Over a decade he stripped out and outsourced much of BPs internal skills in pursuit of "shareholder value", and now it's lost its resilience. He'll still be collecting his pension whatever the eventual cost of this mess.

Bob Sutton

Jonathon,

I think your point of view is reasonable from an OBJECTIVE point of view. But in terms of how the theatrics unfolded, he played the role of a nearly perfectly scapegoat whether he deserved it or not. I would also add that the implication that the accident was a complete surprise is not very convincing given BP's lousy safety culture (by far the worst of any major firm; this is well-documented) as well as specific reports from workers on the oil platform that BP managers were pushing them to work faster and take greater risks. Moreover, in terms of the art of symbolic management, there is strong evidence that CEOs who make statements that they have no control over important organizational outcomes lead firms that suffer lower stock prices and are more likely to lose their jobs. This is pretty well-documented. It reminds me of someone who knew he was on a busy street and stepped off the curb without looking both ways, and was totally shocked when he get hit by a bus. But to return to the main points: 1. He was the perfect scapegoat in this situation, objective facts aside and 2. I think the BP board did a great job of timing has removal to protect the new CEO and the firm's reputation. Whether we like it or not, leading a large firm is partly about impression management, not just making the right objective decisions, and CEO's who can't hold the confidence of relevant constituencies need to be removed -- that is a big part of the job, some researchers argue by far the most important part.

Jonathon

Some interesting points but I disagree. The US media and government decided from day one that Mr Hayward was enemy number one and every story and article that features him seeks to reinforce that point of view.

I agree - he got it wrong. But at least he admitted he couldn't fix everything. Honestly - how does the CEO know an oil well pipe is going to explode? And if he did know - what was he going to do about it?

What this story is really about are the differences in communication stles. That is the slick and polished for the media US style vs the tell like it is British style.

I think the bus comment is a tour de force and sums up the whole situation nicely.

Ye she got some things wrong and doesn't speak with an american accent - but that doesn't make him public enemy number 1.

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