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This disaster raised some very serious ethical issues as well such as careless In the eyes of the government, the company could do no wrong” (Browning, 1993).As in many ethical challenges in business, the lack of oversight or lack of enforcement of policies contribute to the dilemma.
management at the cost of plant safety” (Browning, 2003).
Safety issues were virtually ignored at the Bhopal plant.
Union Carbide's initial crisis communication strategy centered on the financial costs of the tragedy, limiting its legal/financial responsibility for the deaths of thousands of innocent people, the future of the corporation, the stockholders and Wall Street analysts who valued the company's stock and pressure from worldwide consumer and environmental groups (Higgins, 1985, p.14).
The difficulty in getting accurate information from India severely hampered Union Carbide's ability to get information out quickly to the media. Communication scholars and those who study crisis management remain divided about the overall effectiveness of Union carbide's communication strategy regarding the Bhopal incident (Wilkins, 1987; Higgins, 1987).
As a result, the company's first formal release regarding the Bhopal incident came one week after the tragedy (Smith, p. The Company's efforts were also hampered by the often conflicting interests of the various stakeholders in the tragedy.
The Indian Government saw events one way; it wanted to ensure, (1) that it was not held accountable for the events in Bhopal, (2) that it was seen as a victim of Union Carbide's lax safety and maintenance procedures, (3) that it visibly demonstrated that the Indian Government could handle the disaster and medical relief response and (4) that the local government retained its credibility with the population (Shrivastava, p. This strategy placed the Indian Government at odds with Union Carbide and led to the arrest of the CEO when he arrived in India. The impression derived from mass media coverage of the incident focused on the drama of the initial event rather than on in-depth coverage of its possible causes (Wilkins, 1987).
The cause of the MIC release is still a matter of some debate and controversy.
However, it is clear (Shrivastava, 1987) that human, organizational and technological factors to include safety procedures, maintenance operations, reduced staffing, and low morale may all have been involved in the sequence of events leading to the chemical release.
This led to an overall impression of "stonewalling" by the company and thus reduced the effectiveness of their overall attachment strategy (Shrivastava, p. Some note that given the horrific nature of the tragedy, Union Carbide's strategy was about as effective as could be expected under the circumstance, (Higgins, 1987).
Others however, point to Union Carbide's lack of preparation in planning for a crisis (Shrivastava, p.99) which led to a lack of available information and a perception that the company was unsympathetic to the victims. Union Carbide's leadership was faced with what could be described as a mix of crisis types (Coombs, 1995, p. The Bhopal incident contained elements of both an accident in that the events at the plant were beyond the company's ability to entirely control and transgression in that allegations of the plant's lax safety and maintenance standards directly contributed to the deadly chemical leak.