Belfast Study Reconciling Safety and Succession Planning Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Belfast Study

Reconciling Safety and Succession Planning

iSummary Prospectus

Hermeneutics Worldview

Company background

The Experts, their composition and grounds of expertise.

The epistemology of the experts.

Decision makers.

The epistemology of the decision makers.

The Belfast Board

The petroleum experts

Current state of knowledge

Discuss the problem

Discuss the source of the problem

Analyze the problem.


Derived insights

Summary Prospectus

Belfast is a petroleum company with core competences in oil and gas exploration, development, and production located in Calgary. Its experts are petroleum engineers many of whom have substantial years in the petroleum sector. The company's decision makers are its Board of Directors. Belfast Company's decision makers and experts disagree about the experience level of engineers that the company needs to supervise sensitive oilfield operations. Whereas the Board believes that newer engineers should become exposed to a broader range of activities in the field, the experts disagree and hold the opinion that risking public safety into the hands of fresh engineers just out of school is unprofessional. The conflicting opinions of the board and experts are manifestations of the epistemologies or knowledge paradigms of the two groups. An examination of the underlying assumptions of these two groups helps to characterize their respective epistemologies.

. ii. Figure 1: Hermeneutics Worldview (Klein, 1996).

The paper discusses the worldviews of the Board and the field experts using hermeneutics and critical theory frameworks. The discussion includes the groups' philosophical assumptions and epistemological stances as they relate to this issue of on-boarding, transitioning, sustainability, and promoting new engineers to greater levels of responsibility.

The decision to use hermeneutics is to step into this evaluation without a preset list of criteria and rely purely on interpreting the actual facts of this case (Klein, 1996). In order to understand the situation between the Board, the senior exports and the newest employees, first an understanding of each of the parties views must be processed. In this way an unbiased look at the parts of this discussion can be analyzed without preconceived ideas and conclusions. Next in the hermeneutic circle lies an iterative approach of comparing these parts in various combinations to develop the shared meanings, concepts, and beliefs among the parties (Klein, 1996). After comparing and documenting the various epistemologies, the parts will be assembled together and shared. By communicating back to each of the parties what they are perceived as understanding they can reflect on their responses and also re-evaluate views of one another. This is key to defining the next steps of the organization in resolving the conflicts and meeting the core objective of creating sustainability and ultimately, meeting the profit maximization goal of the corporation. The principles most apparent is recognizing the potential gaps between what is being done and the knowledge of participants (Klein, 1996). Another is the possibility of more than a single understanding for a similar sequence of events. Still another would be the ability to assess traditional social constructs between leadership and the experts relative to communication (Klein, 1996). I. e. Has it always been top down or are there areas where horizontal learning can occur.

iii. Analysis of Findings

Some findings emerge from this analysis. These findings are reviewed here to further develop an understanding of the situation. Such as:

a. "Doing appears less valuable than knowing" (Agbons, 1975, p. 15). There seems to be a knowing-doing problem. The existing challenge is to close this performance paradox gap between doing and knowing by translating knowledge into working knowledge for the newer engineers. Transforming knowledge into action will be important to the company's success (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Role of KM in Business Sustainability (Urlaub, 2011).

b. Expert petroleum engineering practitioner knowledge is not easily transferable to the younger engineers and there seem to be many lost opportunities to groom competent professionals. As background the workers who work in petroleum engineering have basically come from three areas. The first being those that earned a degree in the industry from an accredited institution. The second are those that transferred who were trained from other related fields. Lastly, there those trained on the job by the senior experts in the field. Even today there are under 75% who are qualified through education or formal training in the field of petroleum engineering according to J.C. Calhoun, Journal of Petrolatum Technology (1996).

Having noted the diversity of opinions within the framework of critical theory and hermeneutics, the perspectives of each type of worker are explored to understand their conceptual connections, and realize the part they play in the larger process.

c. Taking into consideration the conflicting underlying philosophies and perspectives held by both groups is helpful to the organization especially as it involves succession planning, on-boarding, transitioning, and promoting new engineers to greater levels of responsibility.

Source material:

Agbons, P. (1975). A historical evolution of the petroleum engineering profession. Ibadan, Oyo: University Press.

Calhoun, J.C. (1996). Engineers in the petroleum producing industry. JPT (Sept Issue) 1998 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans.

This reference will help with a historical view to identify reasons why practitioners received confusing messages concerning the quest for higher qualification resulting in a power imbalance between the practitioners and holders of higher degrees.

Hogan, R., & Kaiser, R.B. (2005). What we know about leadership. Review of General Psychology, 9, 169-180.

Johnson, P. & Duberley, J. (2000). Understanding management research: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Hogan, R., & Kaiser, R.B. (2005). What we know about leadership. Review of General Psychology, 9, 169-180.

Johnson, P. & Duberley, J. (2000). Understanding management research: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

The references above will help with examining the board's assumptions in the light of inter-personality differences and halo effect in assessing traits, including leadership skills and abilities to use them effectively.

I. Company background

A. The Experts, their composition and grounds of expertise.

The company's experts are petroleum engineers. Their grounds of expertise include their academic qualifications and substantial years of experience in the petroleum sector. They are most able to determine what is necessary to run operations efficiently and achieve ultimate productivity. However, many of them are of retirement age and the knowledge hasn't been transferred to the incoming engineers.

B. The epistemology of the experts

The petroleum engineering experts have well-formed field-based beliefs that with several mega-projects concurrently going on almost always, the idea of risking public safety into the hands of fresh engineers just out of school is unprofessional. The experts are mainly engineers with several years of experience. Thus they approach the issue from a purely academic, practitioner and professional lens as the basis for judgment is their expertise. The postulation is that the experts have themselves arrived at their conclusions based on rational assessment. Therefore their knowledge paradigms seem to display a conservative element of epistemology.

C. Decision Makers.

The decision makers, their composition and grounds of decision making knowledge.

The company's decision makers are its Board of Directors. To benefit from the decision making talent of foremost personalities, the Board consists of entrepreneurial, innovative, and resourceful individuals. The Board members include the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the country's Finance Minister, the Central Bank Governor, presidents of two of the nation's universities, two previous CEOs of multinational oil companies (Shell Group and Texaco), and a past executive vice president (VP) of the International Finance Corporation. Others include a previous World Bank managing director and senior VPs of two of the company's strategic business (upstream and industrial relations) units. Their grounds of decision making abilities include their diverse skills, background, exposure, acumen, and experience.

A. The epistemology of the decision makers.

Faced with making far-reaching strategic decisions for the company, the decision-makers' epistemic worldview seem to be ones of rationalism and "seeing the bigger picture. " The Board's position is that new local hires should become exposed to hands-on practices, the most modern technologies, field visits, and practical experiences with reduced concentration on theory. The Board is promoting that if newer engineers become exposed to a broader range of supervisory activities in the field, the company can successfully implement its succession plan. This is more so as a result of an aging workforce that would soon retire, potentially creating a critical expertise vacuum.

B. Epistemology Assumptions of the Belfast Board

1. Assumptions about ability.

One inadvertent outcome from the assumption about experts' abilities-based predominantly on academic credentials is that different treatments are given to engineers depending on their academic qualifications. These distinctions may become self-fulfilling prophecies with regard to performance and motivation (Kuchinke, 1999). This is unhealthy for the organization. This will cause conflict between the experts and the new engineers. A spirit of competition will become part of the culture that will delay the free flow of communication that must occur to streamline processes.

2. Assumptions about viewpoint and identity.

3. Assumptions about "manifest" attributes that constitute competent professional engineers tend to focus on two things (Delanty & Strydom, 2003, p. 123). First superficial judgments collected over time and second, a sense of familiarity…

Cite This Essay:

"Belfast Study Reconciling Safety And Succession Planning" (2011, August 16) Retrieved August 19, 2017, from

"Belfast Study Reconciling Safety And Succession Planning" 16 August 2011. Web.19 August. 2017. <>

"Belfast Study Reconciling Safety And Succession Planning", 16 August 2011, Accessed.19 August. 2017,