On September 22nd, 1993, the worst train accident in Amtrak’s history occurred. The Sunset Limited, Amtrak’s only transcontinental train, plunged off a bridge and into the Big Bayou Canot. (Eisenbeis, Hanks, & Barrett, n.d.) This resulted in the death of forty-seven passengers and injury to countless more. Attributing factors for this accident were the heavy, dense fog that limited sight significantly and a barge that had hit the bridge earlier in the day. When this barge hit the bridge, it shifted the railroad track, ultimately causing the train to derail. In this assignment, the stakeholders and their interests in this case will be discussed, along with the social responsibilities for each corporation and a recommendation for these corporations.
When identifying the stakeholders and their interests in this case, it is important to remember the different types of stakeholders there can be. Essentially, anyone who has ties to Amtrak, whether it be internal or external, would be affected by this catastrophe. This includes all employees, no matter their status in the company, and customers who use Amtrak. As these kinds of stakeholders are internal, an example of an external stakeholder in this case would be the company that maintains the railroad. (Chen, 2018) Also, the stakeholders of the company of the barge that caused the damage to the bridge should be considered. These would include but not limited to the captain of the boat and its owners.
The first and most important stakeholder involved is the customers that paid for a ticket to ride this train. Their interest, as a collective, was to be taken from one destination to another, while being transported safely during their voyage. The next stakeholders, arguably the most influential in this case, are the captain and pilot of the barge. Their interest was to safely tow six barges with materials such as coal, to a certain place, to ensure that they could maintain employment at their jobs. This duty was neglected when the pilot took control of the boat while the captain slept, even though this individual was not adequately trained. (Eisenbeis, Hanks, & Barrett, n.d.) The main interest for other stakeholders, like the higher ups at each company, is that their respective business maintains a positive image while making profit. An accident of this nature can make the public have second thoughts about using their services, especially for Amtrak. While the public’s view would not make that big of an impact for Warrior and Gulf Navigation Company, the view of the company from the perspective of potential clients could be damaged.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is defined as the behavior of a business that is directed at solving problems that go beyond the mission of making a profit. (Halbert & Ingulli, 2015) Using CSR is a way a company can portray that their interest is not based solely on stockholders, but instead, all the stakeholders involved. This can take many forms, such as donations and charitable work, to making sure that even entry level employees earn a certain amount of salary.
In this situation of the Sunset Limited, each corporation involved had similar responsibilities, before the incident, in the fact they were expected to keep certain stakeholders safe from physical harm. The audience of these stakeholders is the biggest difference, especially for Amtrak. This is because their customers were physically present, therefore they were more subject to injury. For Warrior and Gulf Navigation Company, only two stakeholders were present, that being the captain and the pilot.
These responsibilities changed at the point that the train derailed. Most important of these was to ensure rescue for those trapped in the cars, which drastically changed the responsibility of Warrior and Gulf Navigation Company, as they now had to assist in the rescue. Another change that occurred in responsibilities was to the environment, as the fuel and oil that had spilled would have a negative impact on the local wildlife. Since this accident had been caused by the barge, this responsibility should be more so on Warrior and Gulf Navigation Company.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
The decision process for each corporation should be similar, except for the admission of fault. Each process would benefit the most from using guidelines set by the ethical decision-making theory of Utilitarianism. According to Halbert and Ingulli, (2015) under this theory decision making is based on what will bring the best result to the greatest amount of people. This theory would be effective for both companies because it would lead to decisions that considered the well being of everyone affected, rather than just those who have financial interests involved. Also, using this theory, could help change the image of the corporation from the perspective of the public.
My recommendation for Amtrak would consist of making sure the individuals involved got all needed medical attention, settlements for families who lost a loved one, and to clean up the environment impacted as soon as possible. My recommendation for Warrior and Gulf Navigation Company would be similar except that I would include that they admit fault for the track being shifted because of the barge hitting the bridge.
Using these recommendations for both corporations would equate to several things. First would be the image and perspective from which the public viewed these companies. While understanding that accidents do occur in life, it is the actions taken after an incident on which the public opinion is based off. If these actions taken have little or no morals behind them, then that could be devasting for the respective companies.
Chen, J. (2018) Stakeholder. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/stakeholder.asp
Eisenbeis, R., Hanks S., Barrett B. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://purdueglobal.brightspace.com/d2l/le/content/89444/viewContent/7539099/View
Halbert, T., Ingulli, E. (2015) Retrieved from https://purdueuniversityglobal.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781305483125/cfi/6/2!/4/2@0:0