The BP Gulf oil spill: public and corporate governance failures

Carolyn Windsor, Patty McNicholas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOtherpeer-review


Purpose: To critically examine public and corporate governance failures that we argue predisposed the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster in United States (US) history. Design/methodology/approach: A critical examination of publicly available documentation to identify systemic governance flaws of a marketized government agency and BP’s self-regulated corporate governance. Findings: The spill was overseen by the US Federal Government agency, Minerals Management Service (MMS). Restructured by the Reagan Administration to mimic business, the MMS regulated and collected revenue from offshore oil leases, a conflict of interest that compromised this public agency’s integrity. Neo-classical economics and its political ally neo-liberalism were instrumental in marketizing the public sector, which became the agency for the ‘business of business regulation’ supporting regulatory capitalism’s ideal of the market as the only way to organize society. Evidence also reveals weaknesses in BP’s corporate governance as oversight of safety, health and the natural environment by various sub-committees was conducted by a few directors with little transparency or public scrutiny.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication11th Australasian Centre on Social and Environmental Accounting Research (A-CSEAR) Conference
Number of pages49
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event11th Australasian Centre on Social and Environmental Accounting Research - University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia
Duration: 2 Dec 20124 Dec 2012
Conference number: 11


Conference11th Australasian Centre on Social and Environmental Accounting Research
Abbreviated titleA-CSEAR 2012
Internet address

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