Original Research

BP’s use of posture to respond to the Deepwater Horizon crisis

Vida L. Goosen-Botes, Grant Samkin
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 6, No 2 | a265 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v6i2.265 | © 2018 Vida Goosen-Botes, Grant Samkin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 June 2018 | Published: 31 July 2013

About the author(s)

Vida L. Goosen-Botes, Waikato Business School, University of Waikato, New Zealand
Grant Samkin, Institute for Business Research, University of Waikato, New Zealand

Full Text:

PDF (360KB)

Share this article

Bookmark and Share


This paper focuses on the posture the oil company BP adopted when faced with a legitimacy crisis during one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Against a backdrop of a discussion of the rhetorical aspects of image repair discourse and organisational legitimacy, Hearit’s strategy of corporate apologia was employed to determine the posture BP adopted in relation to the crisis. This paper adds to the literature on image repair strategies by heeding a call by Hearit for the context within which corporate apologia takes place to be taken account of, an approach that warrants a distinct line of research. The literature was further extended by complementing Hearit's strategy with semiotics and analysing its use in both the annual and sustainability reports. The additional focus on the sustainability reports is important, due to the high premium placed on sustainability in the changing business environment. On a practical level this paper contributes to an understanding of how organisations use sustainability reports to respond to legitimacy challenges.


legitimacy; sustainability reports; crisis response; visual images


Total abstract views: 39
Total article views: 17


Crossref Citations

1. The BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill: Exploring the link between social and environmental disclosures and reputation risk management
Mitali P. Arora, Sumit Lodhia
Journal of Cleaner Production  vol: 140  first page: 1287  year: 2017  
doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.10.027