This paper will examine the concepts of responsibility and blame through analysis of two scenarios involving explosions at plants in small communities. Both explosions result in the death of 100 people, injury to one thousand community members and property damage and medical expenses of over five hundred million dollars. The explosion in the first scenario was caused by a lightning strike that set off an unforeseeable chain of events. In the second scenario, the explosion was caused by a plant employee smoking near corroded pipes through which flammable vapors were released. To determine the level of responsibility and blame the plant should accept in each of these situations requires an understanding of the difference between these two terms.
According to Glass (2011) “Responsibility is empowering, blame is discouraging, responsibility looks forward, blame looks backward, and most importantly, responsibility acknowledges that external factors may mean success is simply not possible whereas blame implies that if you had done something differently, it would have succeeded.” Responsibility involves looking at a given situation, acknowledging ones roll in it, learning from mistakes and moving forward to repair or mitigate damages. Blame focuses on failures, looks to shift responsibility to others and fails to allow the necessary self analysis to create a better outcome in the future. Responsibility and blame need not both be present in every situation. Sometimes the ethical response is to accept the responsibility for correcting a situation or mitigating the damages when the blame lies elsewhere or is lacking entirely. In both plant explosions, the owner of the plant will h...
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...arned and improvements that can be made while shifting focus to the past.
Alicke, M. D. (2000). Culpable control and the psychology of blame. Psychological Bulletin,
126(4), 556-574. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.126.4.556
Bhattacharya, C. B., Korschun, D., & Sen, S. (2012). What really drives value in corporate responsibility?. McKinsey Quarterly, (1), 14-16. Retrieved from http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2072/bsi/detail?sid=f3143555-c710-4883-9e0b-81bf2a56d892@sessionmgr15&vid=1&hid=8&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU=
Glass, J. (2011, April 21). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://jtglass.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/responsibility
Holmes, A. (2010). A reflection on the bushfire royal commission - blame, accountability and
responsibility. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 69(4), 387-391. doi: 0.1111/j.1467-8500.2010.0070
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