Being in charge of cleaning up the March 24, 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill accident, meant that Otto Harrison, the general manager of Exxon International Alaskan Operations, was there when the storm clouds over the event were thick. Despite years of learning, wisdom, growth, and dealing with success and failure, Harrison had never faced a challenge of this magnitude. He was sure his experiences would be utilized in full force. The questions he thought about included whether three different governing bodies, the state of Alaska, the federal government, and Exxon, a publicly held corporation, could work together toward a common goal?to leave few signs of the biggest oil spill ever to occur in North America. What type of help was most needed now? Would Exxon’s plan satisfy the numerous stakeholders? How would the plan be viewed publicly? What impact would the cleanup plan have on Exxon’s business? In the (A) case, the Exxon Valdez accident and immediate challenges are described so students can put themselves in Harrison’s place to lead through the crisis. The (B) case (epilogue) outlines more problems and includes actions taken to try to clean up the oil as quickly and effectively as they could. The tragedy changed the oil industry in many ways?some of which are described in the epilogue.
Darden Business Publishing – University of Virginia