Examining Business Communication in British Petroleum


Here I choose BP Company for my assignment. I choose this organization because BP Company is one of the worlds largest energy companies, providing its customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items. Cars are the most important travel tool for New Zealanders, so there are many gas stations in New Zealand. And BP is one of New Zealand's largest companies and one the country's leading marketer of petroleum products.

BP is a big transnational company, so business communication is very important in this company. Effective communications could help the company develop better.

In my assignment, I will illustrate how BP Company uses effective communications to make sure the big company runs well. Also I will provide my ideas about how effective communication needs to be managed and implemented, and how the communication process could be improved.

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Abstract …………………………………………………………………………… 2

Introduction ………………………………………………………………………… 4

Business demographics …………………………………………………………… 5

Organizational goals ……………………………………………………………… 7

Organizational culture and ethics ………………………………………………… 9

Management of knowledge resources …………………………………………… 11

Group dynamics ……………………………………………………………………14

Meeting management …………………………………………………………… 16

Stakeholders ……………………………………………………………………… 18

Networks ………………………………………………………………………… 19

conclusion ……………………………………………………………………… 21

recommendations ……………………………………………………………… 22

reference ………………………………………………………………………… 22


The British Petroleum Company of New Zealand was established in 1946. It was 51% owned by the New Zealand Government and 49% by Anglo-Iranian Oil. By 1949, BP began selling petrol in most parts of New Zealand.

In 1955 the New Zealand Government sold their shares in British Petroleum to the company and in 1957 the name was changed to BP New Zealand Ltd. New Zealand's only refinery in which BP has shares opened in 1964 at Marsden Point.

In 1999, BP became the first oil company in New Zealand to introduce service stations with solar powered canopies above the forecourt, there are 17 such service stations operating around the country today.

In those days it sold just fuels and lubricants and then some years later it expanded into convenience stores.

Today BP New Zealand is the largest shareholder of New Zealand's only oil refinery and has a 25% stake in a coastal shipping company. It also has investments in eight fuel terminals around New Zealand, some of which it jointly manages with other oil companies. BP New Zealand has around 300 service stations throughout New Zealand and employs over 1700 people.

It has the largest market share in lubricants and retail fuels. It is the second largest distributor of fuel and lubricant products. It has over 250 service stations of which around a third is company owned and the remainders are independent.

For over half a century BP has been providing New Zealanders with the best in fuel, lubricants and convenience retailing.


Business demographics, e.g. communication between different locations (locally, notionally or internationally)

Demographics are the statistical characteristics of human populations, such as age, income, sex, education, occupation, family size and other factors that are used by business to identify markets for their goods and services. Demographic trends describe the changes in demographics in a population over time. For example, the average age of a population may increase over time. It may decrease as well. Certain restrictions may be set in place changing those numbers.

Business demographics are depending on different characteristics of population, businesses differentiate their products in different geographical locations. It includes different locations of business, such as local (in same city), national, and international.

Business demographic at a local level:

The most useful way of communicating in the same city is face-to-face method. The owner of each BP service station should have a face-to-face meeting with all the staffs. In the meeting the owner could tell all the staffs about the new situation of BP Company. Also in that meeting staffs could join the meeting wholeheartedly. Everyone could actually participate the meeting. The staffs could give their opinions about how to make the service stations develop better.

Business demographic at a national and international level:

For transnational enterprises, to achieve high production efficiency and cost ratio, support for efficient collaboration among employees, improve productivity, reduce operating costs is necessary, especially when employees are often on the move or in the relative dispersion or location . Because sometimes the company may need cross-sector and cross-boundary communication and collaboration between staff. The company can initiate an instant meeting through the conference system which provides advanced tools. It is very helpful for staffs work more quickly and efficiently with colleagues, supervisors, partners and customers. It can also improve production efficiency and reduce the times of staff travel. As a result the company can reduce the business running costs. For example, BP Company is a transnational enterprise. It has many branches in many countries of the world. So it often uses video conference to hold a meeting. According video conferencing, the group can arrange the meeting anywhere, so that they can save time and cost for the meeting. And through the use of the whiteboard, document sharing and other features can also improve the quality of the conference. It can not only save a lot of time, but also reduce the communication costs. It can organize the meeting for discussing some unexpected events anytime. The company will be managed scientifically and systematically. Through the implementation of content management and the compatibility with the existing variety database systems, the company can effectively carry out massive information management, information exchange, sharing and integration to improve the internal efficiency and level of the various departments

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There are many other community methods for transnational enterprises. The methods include phone, email, letter, and internet and so on. For example, a recently leaked e-mail from BP CEO Tony Hayward to employees does give a glimpse into how the company is holding up as it grapples with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP Company also publishes a company magazine to show its employees and public what happen to the company every season.

Organizational goals

Organizational goals, e.g. how important are communication of the aims and objectives of the organization to all the different levels in an organization?

Goals: the aim or object toward which an endeavor is directed.

Organizational goals: aim, objective or purpose of running the organization. Ex: earning profit, serving society etc.

Goals help define the organization, give direction and avoid chaos. Goals can help motivate members by communicating what the organization is striving for as well as providing a basis of recognizing accomplishments and successes. Organizations that set goals are more effective in recruiting members.

Goals include individual goals and group goals. Each group member's goal is different, then after communicating to each other, each one will achieve the same group goal. Then the organizational goal will become the goal of each member.

In organization, to achieve effective communication, everyone should follow some norms, such as coffee break, starting and finishing time of meeting, wear and language. Norms include explicit norms and implicit norms.

Organizations normally have norms to encourage openness; to shape conversation; for dealing with conflict and disagreement; for distributed teams.

How to set goals:

Set the goals as a group. This creates many positive results because people will support and be responsible for what they help create. You can expect:

1. Greater commitment and motivation among officers and members to help achieve goals.

2. Clearer understanding of the goals and the rationale for selecting them.

3. With everyone's ideas and opinions considered, your goals will represent a group consensus rather than one person's opinion.

Steps for Setting Goals & Objectives:

1. Brainstorm a list of potential goals as a group.

2. Choose from the brainstorm list those you want to work on.

3. Prioritize.

4. Determine objectives for each goal and plans of action for each objective. (Remember there can be several objectives for each goal).

5. Move into action, follow through. (Many groups fail to evaluate and revise; thus their goals are never achieved).

The goals of BP Company are simply stated - no accidents, no harm to people, and no damage to the environment. They will operate their facilities safely and reliably and care for all those on their sites or impacted by their activities. Everybody who works for BP, anywhere, is responsible for getting HSSE right. The health, safety and security of everyone who works for BP are critical to the success of their business. BP Company will continue to drive down the environmental and health impact of its operations by reducing waste, emissions and discharges, and using energy efficiently. They will produce quality products that can be used safely by their customers.

They will:

Systematically manage their operating activities to continuously reduce risk and deliver performance improvement.

Comply with all applicable local laws and company policies and procedures.

Consult listen and respond openly to their customers, employees, neighbors, public interest groups and those who work with them.

Work with others - their partners, suppliers, competitors and regulators - to raise the standards of their industry.

Openly report their performance, good and bad.

Recognize those who contribute to improved HSSE performance.

Continuously improve their performance by improving the leadership, capability and capacity of their organization.

Their business plans include measurable HSSE targets. They are all committed to meeting them.

Organizational culture and ethics

Organizational culture and ethics, e.g. how does communication need to be managed to meet the needs of people from different backgrounds and culture?

Organizational culture is an idea in the field of organizational studies and management which describes the psychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values (personal and cultural values) of an organization. It has been defined as "the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization." The culture of an organization can have a profound effect on communication within that organization.

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To achieve 'co-ordinate action' there must be an overriding culture that involves all employees, and this culture must be communicated clearly. In large organizations, such as BP Company, there are likely to be sub-cultures within the overriding culture. It is important that these sub-cultures do not conflict with the culture of the organization as a whole.

For example BP Company believes in creating a working culture that promotes trust, respect, diversity, inclusion and integrity - one in which you're valued and given the opportunity to fulfill your potential. Alongside these commitments, they also believe in providing you with an outstanding work/life balance.

Despite the vast geographical range and huge variety of their operations, there's a common set of values firmly in place across all levels of their organization. You'll be part of an open, forward-thinking organization which is committed to your personal well-being, plays a positive role in the communities in which it works, respects and cares for the environment and aims to conduct its business dealings openly.

Unsurprisingly, you'll find many initiatives there designed to improve their business and your experience of BP. One such initiative is their annual People Assurance survey, which monitors and assesses all their employees' views. In addition, their unique Open Talk program allows you to express any concerns you may have about any of their business practices.

Ethics refers to the moral rights and wrongs of any decision a business makes. It is a value judgment that may differ in importance and meaning between different individuals.

Business may adopt ethical policies because they believe in them or they believe that by showing they are ethical, they improve their sales.

Some examples of ethical policies are:

Reduce pollution by using non-fossil fuels.

Disposal of waste safely and in an environmentally friendly manner.

Sponsoring local charity events.

Trading fairly with developing countries.

Compliance & Ethics careers at BP:

BP has a culture where performance counts. But not when that means going outside ethical or legal boundaries to achieve it. We've developed a Code of Conduct that covers five key areas:

Health, Safety, Security and the Environment


Business partners

Governments and communities

Company assets and financial integrity

By working closely with different parts of BP, they can help managers and teams understand their accountabilities. They also provide the practical tools they need to reach and promote ethical standards. As they continue to pioneer new resources and locations, the professionals in Compliance & Ethics will take on more challenging and complex situations. They'll ensure they build an ethical framework to support their progress - wherever they are in the world.

Management of knowledge resources

Management of knowledge resources, e.g. how does an organization ensure knowledge and experience is shared within the organizations?

Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of strategies and practices used in an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organizational processes or practice.

An established discipline since 1991, KM includes courses taught in the fields of business administration, information systems, management, and library and information sciences. More recently, other fields have started contributing to KM research; these include information and media, computer science, public health, and public policy.

Many large companies and non-profit organizations have resources dedicated to internal KM efforts, often as a part of their 'business strategy', 'information technology', or 'human resource management' departments. Several consulting companies also exist that provide strategy and advice regarding KM to these organizations.

Knowledge Management efforts typically focus on organizational objectives such as improved performance, competitive advantage, innovation, the sharing of lessons learned, integration and continuous improvement of the organization. KM efforts overlap with organizational learning, and may be distinguished from that by a greater focus on the management of knowledge as a strategic asset and a focus on encouraging the sharing of knowledge. KM efforts can help individuals and groups to share valuable organizational insights, to reduce redundant work, to avoid reinventing the wheel per se, to reduce training time for new employees, to retain intellectual capital as employees' turnover in an organization, and to adapt to changing environments and markets.

In businesses, governments and societies as advanced as us have become, our world doesn't work properly unless complexity is properly managed. And we can't do that unless we're sharing our knowledge.

This is a challenging and testing time. We are all grappling in different ways with the same challenges. However much we want to be cautious of our interdependence, the fact remains: we need each other to succeed if we are going to succeed ourselves.

We are going to have to depend on each other's knowledge, and our willingness to share it, as never before-whether it is within the borders of companies pursuing competitive advantage, or across the borders of countries cooperating in the pursuit of peace, stability, and progress.

It is within this context that it is particularly important to understand complexity and learning.

BP is among the 10 largest companies in the world. It operates in 100 countries. They own or operate enough pipelines to completely encircle the planet. And in three years their market capitalization has increased from $60 billion to $180 billion.

Learning has played a fundamental role in their growth. And today BP is recognized as one of the world's top 20 companies in the field of knowledge management.

To get there they partnered with other major corporations in extensive research into that virtuous relationship between knowledge and performance-companies like General Motors, Xerox, Lucent Technologies, and Kraft Foods, as well as institutions like Boston University and the United States Army.

They've shared information. They've looked over each other's plants and systems. And they've kicked around the latest ideas. What they came up with through this process is a "learn-do-learn" model that treats knowledge management and shared learning not as after-thoughts, but as core disciplines in the way they run the business.

Our world and our operations are becoming so complex-and things are happening inside and outside the company so fast-that unless they can share knowledge inside the organizations as fast as things are changing around them, they will fall farther and farther behind. Some organizations could even spin out of control.

In organizational terms, the point is simply this: Complexity without learning is a recipe for complete chaos.

So when I say the role of organizational learning will expand in the future, I didn't just come up with that on the way over here, in the hope of impressing the organizers and making you all feel good. On the contrary; I can't put it strongly enough.

For large companies, in which knowledge is a key competitive advantage, organizational learning will not just be more important in the future: It will be mission-critical.

BP Company has set up Web-based learning tools: self-service courses; chat rooms where information and best practice can be exchanged; and Web casting to bring teams together or to extend the benefits of their knowledge to other stakeholders, such as suppliers, on whom they rely heavily to understand our needs more precisely.

Take their Connect network, company-wide Yellow Pages. This is a digital community centre where 30,000 members of our operations staff can share good practice, and where a growing body of knowledge has been captured in strategically critical areas.

The next step, or challenge, will be weaving tools like this into everyday business.

Group dynamics

Group dynamics, e.g. how does effective communication support team development and the handling of conflict?

Group dynamics is the study of groups, and also a general term for group processes. Relevant to the fields of psychology, sociology, and communication studies, a group is two or more individuals who are connected to each other by social relationships. Because they interact and influence each other, groups develop a number of dynamic processes that separate them from a random collection of individuals. These processes include norms, roles, relations, development, need to belong, social influence, and effects on behavior. The field of group dynamics is primarily concerned with small group behavior. Groups may be classified as aggregate, primary, secondary and category groups.

Because people gather in groups for reasons other than task accomplishment, group process occurs in other types of groups such as personal growth groups (e.g. encounter groups, study groups, prayer groups). In such cases, an individual with expertise in group process can be helpful in the role of facilitator.

For example: BP Company is using the 'Forming - Storming - Norming - Performing' model to build and develop the team. It is a model of group development, first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results. This model has become the basis for subsequent models.


In the first stages of team building, the forming of the team takes place. The individual's behavior is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others, and avoid controversy or conflict. Serious issues and feelings are avoided, and people focus on being busy with routines, such as team organization, which does what, when to meet, etc.

The forming stage of any team is important because, in this stage, the members of the team get to know one another, exchange some personal information, and make new friends. This is also a good opportunity to see how each member of the team works as an individual and how they respond to pressure.


Every group will next enter the storming stage in which different ideas compete for consideration. The team addresses issues such as what problems they are really supposed to solve, how they will function independently and together and what leadership model they will accept. Team members open up to each other and confront each other's ideas and perspectives.

The storming stage is necessary to the growth of the team. It can be contentious, unpleasant and even painful to members of the team who are averse to conflict. Tolerance of each team member and their differences should be emphasized. Without tolerance and patience the team will fail. This phase can become destructive to the team and will lower motivation if allowed to get out of control. Some teams will never develop past this stage.


The team manages to have one goal and come to a mutual plan for the team at this stage. Some may have to give up their own ideas and agree with others in order to make the team function. In this stage, all team members take the responsibility and have the ambition to work for the success of the team's goals.


It is possible for some teams to reach the performing stage. These high-performing teams are able to function as a unit as they find ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or the need for external supervision. Team members have become interdependent. By this time, they are motivated and knowledgeable. The team members are now competent, autonomous and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channeled through means acceptable to the team.

Meeting management

Meeting management, e.g. what communication processes need to be in place to ensure meetings are run effectively?

Meeting: is the only place a group really exists and takes action as group really exists and takes action as group, not just separate individuals.

The purpose of meeting: convey and share information, reaching consensus, team building

Before we hold a meeting, we should prepare for the meeting. First, we should decide what you want from meeting. Then setting the date and time, and decide the establish size of the meeting. Also we should determine who should be invited. We should organize the place to hold the meeting and write a notice of meeting. Then set the agenda, such as headings, sequence and time allocation.

There are four roles in a meeting: chairperson, minute's recorder/secretary, time keeper and individual participants.

There are three processes in a meeting:

Setting the scene

The meeting should open on time. The purpose of the meeting should be clear. The chairperson should suggest the time frame for agenda. The people who intend the meeting should be given the facilitate introduction.

During the meeting

The chairperson should summarize the discussion. Everyone in the meeting should focus on the discussion process. Everyone in the meeting should participate the meeting. The chairperson should encourage everyone to speak. No one speaks twice unless every one speaks once. The participant should give their opinions about how to reach the goal of the meeting. The time keeper should check time elapsed and left.

Closing the meeting

The chairperson should ensure the concrete action is taken as the result of the meeting. The minutes' recorder should check the minutes the meeting takes. Each participant should be sure what action they are responsible for. Everyone in the meeting should share their views to avoid negative opinions or gossip after meeting. The chairperson should evaluate the structure and interaction of the meeting.

For example, every year, the stakeholders will be invited to attend BP's Annual General Meeting ('AGM'). If there is a particularly important matter to decide that cannot wait until the next AGM, shareholders may be invited to an Extraordinary General Meeting ('EGM').

At the AGM, shareholders have the opportunity to ask questions about the Company and its activities. Every year registered ADS holders are invited to attend BP's Annual General Meeting in London to vote on important matters such as:

adoption of the Annual Report and Accounts

endorsement of the appointment of those who have joined the Board of Directors since the last Annual General Meeting and directors standing for re-election

approval of the firm recommended to audit BP's accounts for the next year and authorization of the Board to set the auditors' remuneration

There may also be special business to vote on, such as proposals to change the Articles of Association that govern the Company's activities or to increase the authorized capital of the Company.


Stakeholders, e.g. how does the organization manage to communicate effectively with all those individuals and groups who have an interest in the organization?

A stakeholder is any individual or organization that is affected by the activities of a business. They may have a direct or indirect in the business, and may be in contact with the business on a daily basis, or may just occasionally.

The main stakeholders are:

Shareholders (not for a sole trader or partnership though) - they will be interested in their dividends and capital growth of their shares.

Management and employees - they may also be shareholders - they will be interested in their job security, prospects and pay.

Customers and suppliers.

Stakeholders are versus shareholders. It is important to distinguish between a stakeholder and a shareholder. They sound the same - but the difference is crucial! Shareholders hold shares in the company - that is they own part of it. Stakeholders have an interest in the company but do not own it (unless they are shareholders). Often the aims and objectives of the stakeholders are not the same as shareholders and they come into conflict. The conflict often arises because while shareholders want short-term profits, the other stakeholders' desires tend to cost money and reduce profits. The owners often have to balance their own wishes against those of the other stakeholders or risk losing their ability to generate future profits (e.g. the workers may go on strike or the customers refuse to buy the company's products).

In the case of BP Company, I deliver stakeholders to primary and secondary stakeholders:

Primary stakeholders:

- those who own the company - those who work for the company

Secondary stakeholders:

- those who sell to BP - those who rely upon BP's products & services

- those who rely upon BP's employees to buy their products & services


Networks, e.g. what communication methods are in place to make contact with others who might have an impact on the development of the organization?

Business networking is a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of social network whose reason for existing is business activity. There are several prominent business networking organizations that create models of networking activity that, when followed, allow the business person to build new business relationships and generate business opportunities at the same time. A professional network service is an implementation of information technology in support of business networking.

Business networking can be conducted in a local business community, or on a larger scale via the Internet. Business networking websites have grown over recent years due to the Internet's ability to connect people from all over the world.

Companies / organizations - and related value chains / value networks - need some sort of IT support. Traditionally, it is provided by software applications, software packages /suites, ERPs and/or workflows; presently, also by different types of web-based innovations.

Since businesses are expanding globally, social networks make it easier to keep in touch with other contacts around the world. Specific cross-border e-commerce platforms and business partnering networks now make globalization accessible also for small and medium sized companies.

BP New Zealand has a network of around 330 BP-branded service stations across the country. Currently 82 are owned and operated by BP and 234 are privately owned and operated. Of those privately owned businesses, 75 are run by a BP agent.

Independent network independently owned BP service stations make up three-quarters of the BP branded network. These service stations must meet BP New Zealand's standard for product and service. This ensures that all our customers receive consistently high standards of products and service. Owner-operators have the independence of a small business with the support and experience of a major fuel distributor.

Example: BP 2GOâ„¢ The BP 2GO offer - a modern convenience store offer with fuel - has been successfully developed as a concept over the last five years.

The BP 2GO offer allows independent dealers to expand into the convenience market, improving non-fuel income, helping to future proof and protect their businesses.

Independent dealers are also able to improve their margins through improved buying terms and better rebates from suppliers. With a substantial percentage of

BP New Zealand's branded retail fuel being sold through independently owned outlets, the success of these sites is very important to BP New Zealand's overall business. The BP 2GO offer goes a long way towards supporting independent sites through diversification at a time when the fuels market is highly competitive and there is a great deal of pressure on fuel margins.


After learning how BP Company develops its communications in such a large transnational enterprise, we can know that effective communication management is very important for running a company. It can help the owner to manage the company effectively.

Effective communication is important in an organization because it creates mutual understanding environment between the management and employees. Directly, it also helps in increasing the employee's productivity. Effective communication and managers' communication skills are an extremely important issue for effective organizational behavior. Effective business must succeed in all its aspects in order to both correspond to the newest market trends, and satisfy customers' demands.

Good communication matters because business organizations are made up of people. As Robert Kent, former dean of Harvard Business School has said, "In business, communication is everything."

Research spanning several decades has consistently ranked communication skills as crucial for managers. Typically, managers spend 75 to 80 percent of their time engaged in some form of written or oral communication. Although often termed a "soft" skill, communication in a business organization provides the critical link between core functions.


After learning business communication, here I have some suggestions about how to make the communication more effect.

For companies, they should help all the staffs improve their community skills, such as stay focused, listen carefully, try to see others' point of view, respond to criticism with empathy, or use 'I' message.

Increase the channels of communication between all the employees

Try to listen to all employees' opinions, and give them feedback.

Try to break down the barriers to communication, especially in the transnational enterprises; we should pay attention in the communication between different cultures

Deal with the conflicts immediately