The Effects of Attribution Style and Stakeholder Role on Blame for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Stacey R. Kessler, Kevin T. Mahoney, Brandon Randolph-Seng, Mark J. Martinko, Paul E. Spector

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We extend attribution and stakeholder theory in the context of crisis reputation management by examining differences in stakeholder perceptions in the form of organization-related blame. We presented eight stakeholder groups with factual information surrounding the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and asked them to indicate the extent to which they blamed the leaders and organizations associated with the event. Stakeholders also completed a survey assessing their attribution styles. Results indicated that perceptions of blame were affected by the interaction of stakeholder role (i.e., active vs. passive) with attribution style (i.e., optimistic vs. pessimistic). Our results suggest that organizational leaders’ understanding of their stakeholders may be an important aspect in managing stakeholders’ sensemaking during crises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1572-1598
Number of pages27
JournalBusiness and Society
Volume58
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • attribution theory
  • Deepwater Horizon oil spill
  • reputation management
  • stakeholder theory

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    Kessler, S. R., Mahoney, K. T., Randolph-Seng, B., Martinko, M. J., & Spector, P. E. (2019). The Effects of Attribution Style and Stakeholder Role on Blame for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Business and Society, 58(8), 1572-1598. https://doi.org/10.1177/0007650317717495