Motivational Issues and Safety Regulations in Arabia: A Case Study in a Multinational Oil Company

Article excerpt

CASE DESCRIPTION

This case primarily deals with the consulting process within a multinational oil company in the Arabian Gulf peninsula. It brings to the fore the underlying cultural dimensions pertaining to communication, perceptions, and organizational politics operating within a multicultural desert seismic crew. This case is suitable for courses in Organization Development and Change, Human Resource and International Management at the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels and is designed to be taught in two class hours with an expected two hours of earlier preparation.

CASE SYNOPSIS

The impetus for the consultancy was to assist the expatriate management of a seismic crew develop a better understanding of the organizational, cultural, and situational factors that impact safety management, especially driving safety violations amongst the predominantly host country employees. The intended goal was to provide recommendations that will bring about changes in the safety culture of (local) Seismic Crew employees and their motivation to comply with established safety procedures.

The case study presents the consulting process from initial entry, terms of reference, the desert camp field visit; multiple perceptions of the problem and the proposed intervention to manage the process. While the division management endorsed the recommendations, implementation was suspended without providing a convincing reason.

The case study would be of interest to students, faculty and practitioners in the field of Organizational Development and Change as well as International and Human Resource Management in analyzing the consulting process as well as addressing issues of organizational culture and politics, job dimensions and motivation as they relate to attitudes and behavior at work in a multinational work environment

INSTRUCTOR'S NOTE

This is an interesting case to discuss issues related to entry and contracting. Creative instructors could also adapt this case for teaching issues related to managing across cultures and organizational politics.

Discussion Questions

1. Who is (are) the client(s) in this intervention? How did this issue affect the effectiveness of the intervention?

Generally, all those who are directly affected by the intervention are considered as the clients. In this case the contractor was an important client along with Arabian Oil. Because they are the ones who would be most affected by the change. It was essential that they should have been included in the process at an early stage.

By not including the contractors at an early stage as a partner in the change process, they felt that the Arabian Oil was imposing a change on them. Any change will have financial and operational implications. The contractor was not sure who would foot the bill. Thus their cooperation was reluctant at best.

Lack of involvement of the contractor was also a reason why the second phase of the project failed to materialize. Once Andy left there were not enough committed sponsors for the project in the organization.

2. What issues in contracting did the change agents fail to deal with? How did this affect the progress of the intervention?

Since even the preliminary phase would create expectations that change will take place, the change agents should have obtained a commitment from Arabian Oil to complete the whole change process. Moreover, since Andy was the main internal sponsor of the intervention. When he indicated that he was leaving, the change agents should have discussed about the fate of the intervention after his departure. This may have lead to a transition meeting whereby Andy's successor could have been briefed by the change agents about the project and increased the probability that the intervention would continue.

3. What could be the implications of abandoning the intervention at the stage that it was abandoned?

Collecting data through interviews and group discussion is itself and intervention. …