oa Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences - BP's use of posture to respond to the Deepwater Horizon crisis

Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1995-7076



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.

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