Is British Petroleum at Fault for the Oil Spill?

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In our Mineful Monthly Poll, we examined public opinion regarding the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, more particularly who was at fault and who should fix it. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues to cause numerous problems and the United States government has labeled British Petroleum (BP) as the responsible party. While BP has accepted responsibility for the spill and clean up, they are not taking the blame. BP points the finger at Transocean, who's personnel were running the rig at the time of the incident.

So the U.S. says it's BP; BP says it's Transocean; fingers are being pointed at Halliburton's cement work and lack of a preventer plug. Who's really at fault? Who should fix it? And what kind of impact will this have on the environment? We may never know what the actual answers are, but in the court of public opinion the verdict is in: BP, how do you plead?

Photo courtesy of "BP Exec - Nick Turner"

According to our poll, 56% of respondents believe that BP is at fault for the spill in the Gulf. That is an overwhelming figure and a clear majority of the blame being pointed at BP. Compare that to 8% for both Transocean and the United States government and 4% to natural causes. 12% of respondents weren't sure who is to blame, and 13% felt it was someone else's fault (among the responses for "Other": "all of the above" and "people who use gas/oil" were most popular. One person wrote "We are"; so you're admitting you caused it?).

When it comes to fixing the spill, BP's responsibility jumps to 65%, an increase of 9% over the percentage of respondents who felt BP is at fault. The U.S. government remains steady at 8%, with the others dropping. Transocean comes in at 6%, Nature at 2%, and Unsure and Other at 10% apiece (among those who responded "Other", most felt BP and Transocean should both be responsible). So why the differing opinion between who is at fault and who should fix it? It could be because BP is the principal developer of the oil field, giving them a sense of "ownership" to the problem, even if they didn't cause it.

Regardless of who is responsible for causing or fixing the spill, everyone agreed on one thing: this spill will have an impact on fish, coral, and other sea life. 58% believe the impact will be huge, affecting most or all species. 35% believe the impact will be noticeable and affect several species, while only 8% believe the impact will be minimal. No one thinks everything will be fine.
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Arizona Immigration Law - Survey Says

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The Arizona Immigration Law has been in the news ever since there was news that Governor Jan Brewer would out her signatures to the document and make it a law. The Senate Bill 1070 or the SB 1070 is a law that allows police enforcement personnel to detain and check on individuals in the state with regards to their legal immigrant status. The police have therefore been given the right to ask for proper documentation to be produced during lawful contact if there is reasonable suspicion.

Uproar
The law has given rise to a large amount of uproar among the people and the media is replete with criticism of the law. Those angry and fuming state that the law is only likely to give relentless power in the hands of the police, prejudiced members of which shall misuse the power and harass Hispanics and those of Latino origin. It is being presented as a law that will increase ethnic profiling, giving rise to racial discrimination, community distrust, higher levels of crime and litigations; something that is likely to have national political repercussions too.

Fine for Some
Some, however have been through the details of the law and state that the law has been worded well taking into account the various fears that have been mentioned by some Hispanics. Governor Jan Brewer states that she was aware of the kind of uproar that the law might bring about but she felt that she could not allow illegal immigrants to continue coming into the state since the Federal Government at Washington had been slow in reacting to the needs of the state.

Survey Says
Despite the fact that the issue seems to have created displeasure among many, it is surprising that the poll results show differently.

In the Gallup poll held in April 2010, more than three fourths of Americans had heard about the law. Among these slightly more than half (51%) are in favor of the law that has been passed. Three fourths of the Republicans were in favor as against the 34 percent of Democrats who agreed with the law. Half the Independents were also in favor of the SB 1070. The Gallup poll results are based on a telephonic survey that was conducted among 1013 adult Americans, 18 years and above.

The national survey conducted by Pew Research Center for the People and the Press among 994 adult Americans also had a similar story to tell. At an overall level, almost 60 percent approved of the law and almost three fourths thought that it was justified to ask people to produce documents related to their legal immigrant or resident status. Two thirds were also felt that it was okay to detain someone who could not produce legal documents verifying the status.

A higher proportion of Republicans (82%) were in favor of the law at an overall level as compared to Independents (64%) and Democrats (45%). However, 65 percent of the Democrats also felt that asking people to produce legal documents to verify status was not out of line. The older Americans (65+ years) were more in favor of the law (82%) than the fiery younger ones (18 – 29 years), only 45 percent of whom approved of the law. Here again the younger group also approved of the need to produce legal documents when asked (61%).

Yet another poll conducted by McClatchy-Ipsos among 1016 adult Americans showed that 61 percent and 64 percent of registered voters favored the Arizona Immigration Law.
The latest Rasmussen Report based on telephonic interviews of prospective voters in Arizona showed that 56 percent approved of the manner in which Governor Brewer was conducting her duties. This is an increase from the 40 percent recorded a fortnight earlier.

With all the poll results showing positive numbers in favor of the Arizona Immigration Law, it seems like a case of too much noise being made by some people who are unduly feeling sensitive about the recent law that has been passed. It is merely a case of the dissatisfied making a higher ruckus of things as compared those who are satisfied or in favor.
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Mineful in Plain English

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Not sure what Mineful is? Watch this 2-minute video and find out:

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Why Surveys Fail

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As I have mentioned before, the biggest frustration for survey consultants is organizations not using survey results. Although this is understandable under certain circumstances, most of the time it is a simple case of organizations who didn’t realize the seriousness of the problems that they were facing and just simply give up.

But what about those organizations that really try but simply don’t know how to proceed? Obviously, the survey consultant has let them down.

All too often, these organizations build action plans based on issues receiving low survey scores. Makes sense, right? Maybe not. After all, a low survey score, whether based on the response scale score itself or on a benchmark comparison, is a bad thing, right? It indicates a problem, right? Maybe not.

The point here is that all survey questions are not created equal. That is, all survey questions do not have the same impact on organizational performance. Now, I am not talking about a bad question, that is, one that should not have been asked in the first place. I am talking about a good question that provides valuable information but is not as strongly related to performance as are other questions. The information from these questions may help the organization understand the overall work environment better, but they should not set the prime focus.

If a low survey score does not necessarily translate into a problem of immediate concern how do we determine what is a problem of immediate concern? A statistical technique called Driver Analysis provides the solution. Driver Analysis will determine the one or more survey items that should be the immediate focus. Here’s what comes as a surprise. The survey item identified by this analysis may or may not be a low scoring item. That’s right, the organization’s primary focus may be on an area that they are already doing OK or even well on. Remember, we want to identify the item that provides the most leverage on organizational performance. Low scores are good to look at but they may not tell us what we really need to know.

About the author: Ray Seghers is an organizational improvement consultant specializing in employee engagement and customer loyalty surveys as well as employee commitment research.
Blog URL: http://rayseghers.wordpress.com
Business URL: http://www.segherssurveyconsulting.com
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