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An Ounce of Prevention: The Gulf Oil Spill & Corporate Social Responsibility
Bruce Lindsley Rockwood

Last modified: 2011-09-08


The paper explores the economic, social and legal impacts of the Gulf oil spill for stakeholders and their policy implications for corporate and public decision-makers. It will discuss the ethical, legal and practical dimensions of the Gulf Oil Spill and its aftermath through the lens of the principles of corporate social responsibility and the relative costs of ensuring good faith corporate compliance with applicable environmental and safety regulations in the first place, in comparison to the short and long-term costs of addressing the costs after the fact. The logic of expending corporate resources on lobbying, avoidance, regulatory capture and public relations (greenwashing) rather than in compliance training and enforcement will be examined in the light of Robert Audi’s common sense ethical principles and five step method of ethical decision-making. Behavioral traps that cause expensive missteps will be examined and steps to nudge the corporate culture in a more proactive and cost-effective strategy of cooperation and good-faith compliance will be addressed.


ethics; law; environment; regulatory capture; cost-benefit analysis.