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VICTORIA OIL AND GAS CASE STUDY
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The Victoria Oil and Gas Case Study
Company culture differentiates a given company from another and informally defines a code of conduct for the employees to follow (Tissot & Welte, 2012). The Victoria Oil &Gas Company is an energy utility company that is located in western Africa, in the Republic of Cameroon.The company, founded in 2004, was initially developed as an energy exploration company to explore energy resources in Cameroon. In recent years,the company under the stewardship of Kevin Foo, the current CEO, has been engaged in an ambitious expansion program.In the new program, the company has been expanding into new energy sectors andto establish itself as an energy utility (Directors and management, n.d). The expansion program introduces new challenges in terms of maintaining the company’s culture and brand identity and successful incorporation of the new challenges presents the company with its biggest challenge yet. The paper examines a cultural challenge that companies deal with and the Victoria Gas & Oil is used as the case study.
The Victoria Oil&Gas organization, an African gas and oil energy company, are located in Logbaba in Douala, Cameroun, in West Africa. The company has flagship assets in Cameroon and is,basically, the leading energy utility and production company in Cameroon. The company, through its subsidiary, Gaz du Cameroun (GDC), supplies gas to its customers through a 22km pipeline network developed by GDC. In the last four years, the company has seen a growth in its production capacity and the increased production has enabled it to expand its operations within Logbaba and throughout the Republic of Cameroon.Recently, the company successfully obtained a contract from the government that will allow the company to continue its oil and gas exploration activities in the Republic of Cameroon for the next 20 years. In the contract, the company also has an option of extending the contract for a further ten years. The Contract is a major boost to the company considering that the Cameroon region is largely unexploited and promises massive potential in terms of its oil as well as gas reserves (Bazilian et al., 2013). The local demand for energy and energy products coupled with the expanding economy means that the company is poised to grow further and expand its network within the Republic of Cameroon. The company has its shares listed in the United Kingdom stock exchange and its shares show promising results with its share value ever increasing. The company forecasts major growth in the coming years and investors believe that the company’s growth trajectory is poised to rise even further.
The organization’s cultural diversity
Victoria Oil & Gas believes in cultural diversity and the principle of inclusion in the workplace. The company is, therefore, committed to ensuring that cultural diversity translates to a competitive advantage for the company, especially as it seeks to expand its operations throughout the Republic of Cameroon and the West African region. Modernity, ease of global transportation and trade relations has enabled people to travel freely. The ease of travel and the interconnection that has been brought about by increased efficiency in technology and telecommunication has allowed people to take advantage of opportunities arising in other countries. Victoria Oil & Gas is no different in this respect, as it faces the common challenge that most companies in the 21st century are facing.Instead of viewing the cultural diversity as a challenge, the company has moved fast to take advantage of the benefits that cultural diversity can accrue to an organization.
The recruitment department in this regard has taken measures to embrace cultural diversity in its recruitment process. The top management in the company are proof of the cultural diversity and the benefits that the company is already reaping from thestrategic decision to embrace cultural diversity and to provide the organization with the global competitive advantage it needs to effectively compete on a global platform.For instance, the CEO, Kevin Foo hails from the United Kingdom, but has over 40 years of experience managing companies over five continents. Robert Palmer, the finance director, James Mcburney, the non-executive director, as well as John Bryant, are United Kingdom residents (Directors and management, n.d). However, for successful operations in the Cameroon region, the company has had to integrate some of the locals into their company to help in the daily operations of the company. Integrating the local employees into the company is beneficial to the operations of the company for more than one reason. One, the company is able to gain more acceptance in the market (Trompenaars, 1993). This factor is crucial to the Victoria Gas & Oil because it is instrumental when negotiating contracts with local companies who are the chief beneficiaries and consumers of the Victoria gas and oil products. Secondly, using the local human resources is only natural and part of the social responsibilities for the company. Provision of jobs to the locals and extending other social responsibility activities goes a long way in helping the local community in which he company operates. Gaining acceptance in the local community in which a firm operates is crucial for any company that wants to successfully operate in a given community (Iles, and Zhang, 2013).
There is a cultural rift between the United Kingdom and the African country of Cameroon where the Victoria Gas & Oil is based. The difference in culture is a common challenge to foreign companies working or establishing branches in foreign places (Schwartz, 1990). The cultural difference always presents a challenge to any company while trying to establish its own culture among the locals (Dowling, Festingand Engle, 2008). However, Victoria gas & oil has maintained its UK identity and brand recognition even though it has been operating in the Cameroon region for over ten years now. It has done that successfully considering its ever expanding in terms of operations and energy explorations in the West African country. The recruitment department has been at the forefront of the cultural issue. However, modernization and an ever-evolving culture has accepted the western culture smoothening the challenge the company faces. The company also has a corporate social responsibility department with standards and regulations that govern how the company interacts with the local communities in the most optimal way that ensures that both parties benefit from the interaction. The company also continually reviews these standards and regulations to ensure that its relationships with the government, the stakeholders, the public and its neighbors are good. To this end, the company has always ensured that the safety of the working environment is a top priority in the company, and that the exploration activities do not harm the environment in which they share with the local community.
The top management is experienced in working in more than one continent. For instance, the CEO, Kevin Foo, has over 40 years management experience over five continents. In his career portfolio he has been responsible for the development of mines in remote locations and his rich experience was instrumental in the founding of the Victoria Gas & Oil in 2004 (Directors and management, n.d). Kevin’s years of experience in five continents have not only been advantageous in giving him the technical capability required to successfully manage the Victoria Gas & Oil company, but it has also been instrumental in exposing him to different cultures throughout the five continents in which he has worked. Kevin, the company’s CEO, has been instrumental in the growth of the company in the Cameroon region because of his cultural exchange experience in interacting with the local communities.James McBurney, a non-executive director, also has over 25 years of experience in the gas and energy industry both in London and in the United States. His years of experience both in the US and in London have been instrumental in equipping him with the experience of handling foreign cultures. The experience has been instrumental to the Victoria Gas &Oil Company in its efforts to expand and to establish itself as the leading energy utility company in Cameroon.
Advantages of cultural diversity
Quite a number of the company’s employees are foreigners from Europe.The company’s investment and the oil exploration prospects in the West African region is an attractive venture with major global oil companies turning their interest to the region poised to grow considerably into the foreseeable future.The attractiveness of the energy prospects has attracted foreigners in the region seeking to workwith companies such as Victoria Oil & Gas.As a result, the company has employed a number of people from all over the world with different ethnic and cultural diversities. The company understands that with proper management, cultural diversity can be harnessed to culminate into a competitive edge for the company; both in the short term as well as in the long term and that the advantages that accrue from the diversity perfectly fit into the ambitious growth projects that the company is engaged in.A diverse workforce provides the company with different perspectives that usually come in handy whenever a company is faced with challenges. A company with a diverse workforce, especially a workforce involving individuals fromvarious countries just as in the case of Victoria Oil & Gas (Directors and management, n.d), provides a company with a global competitive advantage and a global understanding of the industry.
Challenges of cultural diversity
The company faces some challenges from the cultural diversity of its staff. The company has been able to integrate the cultural diversity that accrues from its foreign expatriates in its top management. However, other challenges such gender inequalities that are a common problem throughout the African region present a challenge to the organization as it tries to balance its gender composition to include more women among its workforce. The gender inequality problem is, however, a challenge that is inherent in the Republic of Cameroon, where the company operates.
The company also faces the religious diversity challenge with most of the top management leadersnon-Islamic. With the Western region predominantly Islamic, the company is challenged with balancing the religious composition of its workers and to respect the religious requirements for some of the employees.
It is essential that the company maintains an organizational culture that forms its brand identity (Alvesson, 2012). The company’s culture has a tendency of unifying the company’s employees and gives them a sense of identity that also differentiates them from other companies. The corporate social responsibility in the Victoria Gas & Oil company is a major issue. Cultural diversity is a major strengththat is helping push the company’s growth agenda and the company is committed to taking advantage of the global competitiveness it offers.So far, the company has been doing well in its social responsibility section, but needs to rally its employees behind its corporate social responsibilities. In recent years, the new company CEO, Kevin Foo, who took over as the company’s CEO in 2013 has actively been re-branding the company. Initially, the company only operated as an energy exploration company. With the new management, it’s now essential that the company prepares for new challenges that are being introduced with its ambitious expansion plans.The recruitment department faces a challenge in streamlining its recruitment processes in maintaining the company culture regarding its new employees. The recruitment needs to put in place measures to ensure that among the selection criteria, the selected individuals are from diverse backgrounds to the company with fresh ideas and the potential to gain from the global competitiveness that comes with cultural diversity.The company’s cultural diversity results from most of its top management being foreigners in the country. Other aspects of cultural diversity need to be integrated into its cultural diversity for the company fully benefit from the global competitiveness that cultural diversity offers and that the company seeks.
In conclusion, it is essential for companies to retain its culture through an expansion program as well as through time. Retaining the company culture is essential to the company’s brand and its marketing efforts (Balmer, 2012). The recruitment process should be structured in such a way that the new recruits easily take up the organizational culture and that they respect it.For companies such as Victoria Gas & Oil Company that operate in a foreign location and that are engaged in ambitious expansion programs need to ensure that the recruitment process and the new employees take up the company culture with minimum fuss.In this regard,it is essential that the company puts in place a structure that will ease the learning process.
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