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INTERCULTURAL ISSUES in the Upstream Oil & Gas INDUSTRY. University of Warwick: November 15, 2012 Glen Burridge NDB – New Digital Business Ltd. Structure of Presentation 1. Overview of Upstream Oil & Gas business 2. The Three-Way Intercultural Challenge 3 . The Consequences
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University of Warwick: November 15, 2012
NDB – New Digital Business Ltd
1. Overview of Upstream Oil & Gas business
2. The Three-Way Intercultural Challenge
3. The Consequences
4. Possible Solutions
Living in France
Living in Indonesia
7 Production Engineers
6 Reservoir Engineers
2 Admin Support
2 Software Support
1 Data Manager
Living in US
Living in Hungary
Living in Australia
Living in UK
Service Co 1
…………..…………Sub-Contractors x many n?
The Big Crew Change:
- Large number of highest experience staff to retire in coming decade
- Missing Generation of mid-career professionals
- Budding economic powers providing increasing share of workforce
- Steadily more gender-balanced professional workforce
- Professional operational status: 5+ years
- Project-specific expertise: 6 months+
- High degree of training, but poor mentoring of new staff
- Poor knowledge capture & transfer from experienced staff
Geoscientists (“Geo’s) vs Engineers:
- Large-scale, 4D conceptually-driven thinking of geoscientists
- Focused, measurement & building-driven view of engineers
So, an Engineer, a Geologist & Geophysicist are in a room with the Boss.
The Boss asks the Engineer “What’s 2+2?” The Engineer replies “4.0000″.
Then the Boss ask the Geologist the same question. The Geologist replies” Oh, somewhere between 3 and 5″.
Finally, the Boss ask the Geophysicist the same question. The Geophysicist replies ” What would you like it to be?”
Differences in interpretations / recommendations between local and expat subsurface staff:
Need to reconcile & select most appropriate fitting all necessary criteria
Critical Issue / Error / Risk Reporting:
Face, power-distance, individual vs collective responsibility
Idiocentric Corporate multinational company goals vs Allocentric National Polychronic perspective
Large project planning:
Point outcomes vs consensus building. Time perceptions. Delegation.
Roles & Responsibilities:
Power-Distance, Linear vs Circular decision-making, Matrix vs Hierarchy. Multiple projects
Uncertainty handling (sub-surface environment, external constraints etc)
Recognition, acknowledgement, assessment, consequence
IOC (Integrated Oil & Gas Company)
NOC (National Oil & Gas Company)
Ref: US Chief Counsel’s Report to President
“As a result of a cascade of deeply flawed failure and signal analysis, decision-making, communication, and organizational - managerial processes, safety was compromised to point the blowout occurred with catastrophic effects.”
Perhaps there is no clear-cut “evidence” that someone the organizations in the Macondo well project made a conscious decision to put costs before safety; nevertheless, that misses the point.
It is the underlying “unconscious mind” that governs the actions of an organization and its personnel.
“Cultural influences that permeate an organization and an industry and manifest in actions that either promote and nurture a high reliability organization OR actions reflective of complacency, excessive risk-taking and a loss of situational awareness.”
Ref: E. Plum et al., 1998
- best practice goals
- learning from past mistakes
- non-negotiable thresholds
- 3-way cross-cultural awareness
- awareness into action (RACI)
- context-sensitive communication
- multi-threaded, flexible management style
- knowledge transfer, management & sharing
- team-working as inter-cultural exercise