The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that resulted from a blast has raised questions on America’s disaster preparedness. Such questions are expected considering that emotions run high during such events that have multiple effects on different facets of a nation or a community. The proposed study tries to develop an objective assessment of the response to the crisis by America with the aim of determining any failures and how they can be corrected. Additionally, the study will compare the steps adopted in management of the Mexican gulf crisis to the best practices in crisis management.
This is made possible by the adoption of a research methodology that allows for unrestricted interaction with different entities that participated in the management of the crisis: unstructured interviews. A qualitative research approach is adopted due to its relevance to the problem. If carried out effectively, the proposed study will highlight areas that need to be improved in national crisis management and the steps that should be taken to improve planning and implementation in disaster management.
This will result in better crisis management plans that will reduce losses made during disasters and improve gain in knowledge on how to manage crises and disasters. Research Problem Disasters do happen and may result in loss of human life and vital resources. However, preparedness and management of disasters and any other unpredictable occurrence have an influence on the loss that will be made. The BP oil spill in 2010 is one of the worst disasters of its kind. The Deepwater horizon oil spill was a result of a rig explosion on the 20th of May 2010 that killed at least 11 platform workers and injured at least 17 others (Mufson).
However, these are not the only losses made due to the explosions; wildlife especially sea life and the marine environments has been vastly affected by the oil spill (Thompson 1). The already fragile marine fauna around the Gulf of Mexico has been dealt a deathly blow by the oil spill which was estimated to be gushing crude oil at rates between 35000-60000 barrels a day (Thompson 1). Other aspects of human life that have been affected include fishing and tourism which are key industries in the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite previous occurrences of similar disasters in US history, the management of this crisis has led to negative comments on the nation’s preparedness to handle crises. Many environmentalists and disaster management specialist are of the view that the disaster could have been managed better had the required structures and systems to manage the crisis been in place. This raises questions on the suitability and efficacy of the disaster and crisis management strategies that US has in place.
Crisis management planning and execution is concerned with formulating and implementing structures to mitigate the threats, effects and aftermath of unforeseen circumstances. With proper crisis management planning and execution, the effects of a crisis can be minimized. Thus, there is need to determine the crisis management steps that were used in handling the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, comparison between the practices used and best practices and make recommendations on areas that US has to improve in crisis management. Research Goal and Objectives
The main goal of the research is to determine the weaknesses of the current disaster management strategies and what can be done to improve them. This goal will be driven at through the following objectives: a. To determine the errors and undoing of the current national disaster management strategies relating to oil spills. b. To determine the best practices in crisis management planning and execution for oil spills c. To make recommendations on areas that need to be strengthened and improvements required in national crisis and disaster management planning and execution.
Significance Learning from past mistakes and events is important to individuals as well as nations. However, US as a nation appear to have learned little on the need for proper crisis management planning and execution strategies. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill reveals the extent of damage that disasters irrespective of their causes have on human life. Oil spill containment is dependent on the disaster management strategies and the levels of coordination between different entities involved in its management.
This proposal will seek to better the current disaster management strategies to avoid a repeat of the losses made in marine life. Additionally, by highlighting the weaknesses in the current crisis management planning and execution, the study will spotlight areas that should be researched further. It is therefore evident that the research has significance to development of knowledge on crisis management planning and execution as well as practical disaster management. Content Crisis management is the process through which the threats and risks associated with unpredictable events are addressed.
It is noteworthy that a crisis is an event that threatens an entity, has the element of surprise and is characterized by a short decision time (Lee, Parker, Ward, Styron, and Shelley 318-319). These are the main descriptive attributes of a crisis that complicate its management and do not allow for a planned approach to reaching and implementing a resolution. It is important to note that crisis management is mainly concerned with addressing unpredictable events after they have occurred. In a nutshell, crisis management involves the identification, understanding and coping with serious occurrences.
The existence of a risk management plan may however complement crisis management since it helps in assessment of the extent of damage caused by an occurrence. Though an institution and its leadership may not be blamed for the occurrences of a crisis, they will be gauged by how it is handled. Crises are generally emotionally charged and can cause negative reaction which may erode the reputation and wellbeing of an entity (Patricelli, Beakley, Carnevale, Tarabochia, and von Lubitz 24-25). Clearly, the performance of a nation in managing a crisis is a reflective of the levels of cohesion and strength of its leadership.
At any level, management of a crisis is an organization wide endeavor that requires the input of various entities. Management of a national disaster or a crisis like an oil spill requires the incorporation of various entities that are either directly or indirectly affected (Cavanaugh, Gelles, Reyes, Civiello, and Zahner 221-222). Seeking additional expertise and the use of technology may come in handy in speeding up the recovery processes however this does not guarantee recovery from the associated emotional effects.
Learning is an important step in crisis management. Organizations that carry out crisis management effectively should be better placed to handle similar occurrences in the future (Ganapati, and Ganapati 43-44). This is mainly due to the experience, knowledge and skills that have been acquired in crisis management. However, researchers have established that in most crisis management initiatives little emphasis is placed on learning as more time is allocated to containment. The potential gains are eroded by the high emphasis placed on containment.
This is especially true in cases where a crisis affects different stakeholders in a community and is deemed to have long lasting effects. In such cases, the pressures to contain the crisis result in overemphasis on this phase in crisis management whereas learning is virtually left unaddressed (Somers 13-14). Use of crisis management model and contingency plans may significantly improve the managements of crises and natural disasters. Understanding the possible set of scenarios that could lead to a crisis and how it can be managed beforehand is important in improving the understanding of how a crisis manifests (Kapucu 239-240).
This is mainly because the entities that are required to handle a crisis are better placed psychologically if they have been exposed to drills and have practical understanding of the associated threats. The existing literature points to the importance placed on planning and a holistic approach to crisis management. Additionally, there is concern on the low emphasis placed on learning as a phase in crisis management. This is an area of critical concern considering that some types of crises tend to reoccur. Addressing this gap in research is vital considering the role played by prior knowledge of a crisis in its management.
Research Methodology The research methodology determines the validity and reliability of the study. Emphasis in formulating the research methodology is placed on use of strategies that allow for accurate and consistent findings. The study has been formulated to address existing gaps in literature on crisis management. Additionally, the study may help develop knowledge that is specific to oil spills. This consideration is important considering that different types of crises are associated with different sets of scenarios which affect the specific strategies and steps that are taken in containment and the entities that are involved.
A qualitative methodology will be adopted in the study and will involve the collection of qualitative data from entities that were involved in addressing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. A qualitative methodology allows for collection of data that address the problem from different perspectives and viewpoints thus helps in developing a holistic view of a problem and its solution (Silverman 19-21). The choice of the methodology is prompted by the existence of prior literature on crisis management planning and implementation and different entities that were affected and involved in address of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Data collection will be through the use of unstructured interviews of different groups of people involved in addressing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The different groups which include fishers, environmentalists, oil experts, crisis management experts, politicians and the local community will all be interviewed for their comments on the weaknesses of the current crisis management strategies and what ought to be done to improve the current strategies. Though the use of unstructured interviews may be time consuming it allows for free interaction between the researcher and the participants which improves accuracy of the data collected.
Moreover, this data collection approach allows for clarification of points that are deemed unclear or ambiguous (Marshall, and Rossman 55-58). Additionally, an extensive literature review will be carried out to determine the best practices in crisis management. Narrative analysis of responses from the participants, a review of the existing literature for the best practices in crisis management and triangulation (comparison) of the results from primary data (interviews) and secondary data(literature review) are the analytical techniques that will be used in the study. Time Table
Activity Duration (Days) 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Collecting Relevant Literature Reviewing relevant Literature Identifying Entities Involved Data Collection and Analysis First Draft Revision Final Draft Works Cited Cavanaugh, John, Michael G. , Gelles, Gilbert, Reyes, Cathleen L. , Civiello, and Mary, Zahner. “Effectively Planning for and Managing Major Disasters”. Psychologist-Manager Journal 11. 2(2008): 221-239 Ganapati, Emel, and Sukumar, Ganapati. “Enabling Participatory Planning After Disasters: A Case Study of the World Bank’s Housing Reconstruction in Turkey”.
Journal of the American Planning Association 75. 1(2009): 41-59 Kapucu, Naim. “Collaborative emergency management: better community organizing, better public preparedness and response”. Disasters 32. 2(2008): 239-262 Lee, David, Gaylynn, Parker, Michael E. , Ward, Ronald A. , Styron, and Kyna Shelley. “Katrina and the Schools of Mississippi: An Examination of Emergency and Disaster Preparedness”. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 13. 2/3(2008): 318-334 Marshall, Catherine, and Gretchen B.
Rossman. Designing Qualitative Research. (5th ed. ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010 Mufson, Steven. “Gulf of Mexico oil spill creates environmental and political dilemmas”. 27 April 2010. Washington Post. 13 July 2010 ;http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/26/AR2010042604308. html; Patricelli, Frederic, James E. , Beakley, Angelo, Carnevale, Marcello, Tarabochia, and Dag, von Lubitz. “Disaster management and mitigation: the telecommunications infrastructure”. Disasters 33.
1(2009): 23-37 Silverman, David. Qualitative research: theory, method and practice. (2nd ed. ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004 Somers, Scott. “Measuring Resilience Potential: An Adaptive Strategy for Organizational Crisis Planning”. Journal of Contingencies ; Crisis Management 17. 1(2009): 12-23 Thompson, Andrea. “Gulf of Mexico oil spill: How bad is it? ” 28 April 2010. The Christian Science Monitor. 13 July 2010 ; http://www. csmonitor. com/Science/2010/0428/Gulf-of-Mexico-oil-spill-How-bad-is-it;