Managing Blackout at Aluminum Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba) (A)
The case opens in 2017 as Tim Murray, CEO of Aluminum Bahrain (Alba), the largest single-site aluminum smelter in the world outside China and a major contributor to the Bahraini economy, was contemplating the recovery options as the company was facing the most severe crisis in its history. The case provides background on Alba and chronicles a transformation process implemented by Murray. The company had historically underperformed expectations. It developed a hierarchical, engineering oriented culture. The large workforce, made up of multiple nationalities, exhibited uneven levels of process compliance and personal accountability. Those deficiencies manifested themselves in many ways. Most damaging was a consistently poor record of workplace safety. Alba suffered from a high rate of on-the-job injuries and fatalities. Murray undertook to change the company culture, using safety as the linchpin of a campaign to instill a greater sense of discipline and personal responsibility across all levels of the organization. The case occurs against the backdrop of Alba's largest expansion project to date, which was planned to increase its production capacity by 50%. Just as Alba was reaping the benefits of Murray's campaign, a total blackout at Alba's facilities leads to an explosion that severely damaged its largest production line while Murray is on home leave. As the extent of the damage becomes apparent, the management team begins reverting to old behaviors. The case follows the subsequent series of events as Murray seeks to get control of the situation. Murray has to choose between two options for restoring production: outsourcing the recovery efforts to a credible third party at a very high cost or letting his team take on the task. As he contemplated his options, he dwelled on an overarching question-what was the best mechanism for restoring the damaged production line without undermining the culture he had invested so much in trying to create at Alba?