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Exxon’s Guide to Ethical Communication Heather Mueller Ithaca College
Exxon Exxon’s Guide to Ethical Communication The key issue presented in the Exxon Case Study is that Exxon communicated in an unethical manner when its crisis contingency plan failed (McGill & Seeger. the oil spill can be effectively handled so the company maintains an ethical and positive image.” (McGill & Seeger.1).” (Waddock. thus firing him (McGill & Seeger. The crisis worsens when companies provide false statements and do not take responsibility for their actions. 2000.9 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince Williams Sound. However. p. 2 Inadequate communication. if “the company is ill-prepared to handle the situation. which is what oil companies need to avoid if they want to uphold a respectable company image. along with the absence of an effective plan minimizes trust. 2008. “Incorrect and misleading statements is helpful to no one.180). Exxon needs a way to truthfully communicate with the Alaskan Coast Guard and its employees so all emergency plans can be carried out efficiently. Exxon management blamed the Alaskan Coast Guard and the captain of the tanker for the failure of the crisis contingency plan (Cleveland.177). Exxon blamed others for the mistakes made by its management and gave false statements stating the Coast Guard did not complete his part of the plan and that the captain drove drunk. 2008. par. 2008. Analysis Companies that work with highly toxic substances often have spills that can be seen as normal accidents (Cleveland. p. 2000. p.23) it becomes a considerable crisis. When Exxon’s tanker Valdez spilled 10. 2000.1). 180) and only makes Exxon’s management appear untrustworthy and worsens the crisis. . Lying and irresponsibility are two examples of unethical behavior. par. it failed because Exxon management had a disorganized plan. With new plans. The plan did not fail because of irresponsible stakeholders. and these behaviors led to poor trust and miscommunication between stakeholders. p.
. the management should practice Deontology. This model views’ a “company’s relationships as life-long partnerships” that are achieved with continuous communication. p. One way Exxon management could develop ethics would be to follow a philosophical perspective called Deontology. 321). Hildebrandt. they can help rather than getting in the way to resolve the situation (Waddock. When companies have common objectives. Exxon can effectively and truthfully communicate with the Alaskan Coast Guard and its employees. Exxon management would always tell the truth if they followed this philosophy (Murphy et al. p. 2008.d. Deontology is the “study of moral obligations or duty”. Exxon could work closer with The National .” (Murphy et al. there is no need for lying or blaming others (EBM. p. and not lie or blame others.. 2008. p. If stakeholders come together on behalf of the company facing a crisis. stakeholders would trust Exxon. p. With the new philosophy. Since “ethics is often a communication issue. the rest of the company would become ethical as well because “others in the 3 organization would observe and model their behavior” (Murphy et al. and Thomas.312). Once trust is built. 2008. In the event that Exxon were to experience another crisis. n.321). there would not be any miscommunication.d.312).)..).) to built trust. Another way Exxon can built trust with its stakeholders is with the Stakeholder Alignment model (EBM. allowing them to immediately take all responsibility for the crisis. 2008. n. Exxon needs to show “regard to the interests of all its groups of partners.d. and Exxon could uphold its image as a respectable and responsible company.” (EBM. Exxon needs guidance to ensure honest communication. If the management always told the truth.Exxon Solutions Exxon management needs to develop ethical communication skills to truthfully communicate with stakeholders. and “deontologists evaluate acts regardless of their consequences” (Murphy. 23). 2008. n.
par. Iacocca made the “right ethical decision regarding corporate wrongdoing” (Murphy et al. Mr. waters and helps the On-Scene Coordinator make timely operational decisions” (OR&R. By quickly addressing the issue. so there is no miscommunication or unethical behavior..320). Top Chrysler official Lee Iacocca immediately arranged a news conference and apologized for the tampering. NOAA has a division called The 4 Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) that specifically respond to “oil and chemical spills in U.14). p. 2008. 2005). so all communication is continuous and truthful. which is a “federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere” (OR&R. These solutions will allow Exxon to maintain ethical behaviors. 2005). Exxon should also work closer with NOAA to ensure its crisis plan runs efficiently. 2008. 3). par. OR&R would help Exxon improve its crisis contingency plan and would work as a leader to ensure that the plan runs efficiently.. and be seen as a respectable company.S. He believed “selling damaged cars that had been repaired as new was dumb'' and that Chrysler had “nobody but themselves to blame” (Holusha. therefore upholding the company image. 1987. . 1987. This allowed Chrysler to retain strong trust and communication with its customers. OR&R would assist Exxon by leading the team at the spill and working with management to organize a press release including the company’s ethical values because press releases “frequently follow an organizational crisis when the crisis calls the organization’s values into question” (Murphy et al. p. Conclusion The course of action that Exxon should follow is to adapt the philosophy of Deontology and follow the Stakeholder Alignment model. The Chrysler Corporation behaved unethically when the company committed mail and wire fraud by disconnecting odometers on cars for personal test drives and selling them as new (Gordon.309).Exxon Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Kish. 2008. OR&R across the U.).).eoearth. In The encyclopedia of earth. NJ: McGraw Hill Primis Online. The New York Times.gov/ Waddock. S. (2008). 1-16. OR&R. NJ: McGraw Hill Primis Online. Komaromi. In Emergency. W. .W. Introduction to strategic communication [custom text] (pp.restoration. (1987). Hightstown. Retrieved December 2. Exxon Valdez oil spill. from http://www.org/article/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spill EBM. Inc. from NOAA Web site: http://response.A.d. (2005).html Gordon.noaa.. Stakeholder alignment. M. 2008. Ethical Issues in Exxon’s Response to the Valdez Crisis. Hamula.uk/html/stakeholder_alignment. Hildebrandt. Retrieved November 26. Retrieved November 26. from http://query.). H.P. J. Ressler (Eds. from Newsday.).).com McGill A. Hightstown. Hamula. 2008.nytimes. In S. (pp. K.S. from http://www.algordon. Retrieved December 4. D. M. C. A. K. (2008). pars. 1-39). Kalman. Komaromi. K. Communicating in organizations: A casebook (2nd ed. Ressler (Eds. Retrieved November 26. (2008). Boston. (2000). Chrysler enters no contest plea over odometers. 2008. In G.co. 306-327). Peterson (Ed.ebml. & W. & Seeger M. Introduction to strategic communication [custom text] (pp. Business communication and the ethical context. (n. 177-181). J. K. Murphy. December 15). (1987. In S. & Thomas. & W. J. Web site: http://www.Exxon References Cleveland. H.. Kish. Stakeholders: The relationship key. MA: Allyn and Bacon. 2008.com 5 Holusha. Chrysler image in for repairs. Kalman.
nytimes.html? res=9B0DE5DD163AF936A25751C1A961948260&sec=&spon= http://www.Exxon 6 http://www.html .org/holdings/vol1/iss3/burke/samra.com/gst/fullpage.algordon.com/writing/page15/assets/chrysler_image_in_for_repairs_07-021987.html http://query.acjournal.
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