Managing Blackout at Aluminum Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba) (A)

Case Solution

Joseph B. Fuller, Gamze Yucaoglu, Youssef Abdel Aal
Harvard Business School ()

The case begins in 2017 when Tim Murray, CEO of Aluminum Bahrain (Alba), the world’s largest single-site aluminum smelter outside of China and a major contributor to Bahrain’s economy, reflected on recreational opportunities as he faced the company with the most serious crisis. in his story. The case provides background information on Alba and records a transformation process carried out by Murray. Historically, the company had not lived up to expectations. A hierarchical and engineering-oriented culture developed. The large workforce, which consisted of various nationalities, displayed an inconsistent level of process compliance and personal responsibility. These deficiencies manifested themselves in many ways. Worst of all was a consistently poor occupational safety record. Alba suffered a high rate of workplace accidents and deaths. Murray set out to change corporate culture by using safety as the lynchpin of a campaign to encourage greater discipline and ownership at all levels of the company. The case comes in the context of Alba’s largest expansion project to date, which was designed to increase production capacity by 50%. Just as Alba was profiting from the Murray campaign, a total blackout at Alba’s factories caused an explosion that severely damaged its largest production line while Murray is on vacation at home. As the extent of the damage becomes apparent, the management team begins to revert to previous behaviors. The case follows the subsequent series of events in which Murray attempts to take control of the situation. Murray must choose between two options to restore production: outsource restoration efforts to a credible third party at a high cost, or let his team do the work. As he pondered his options, he paused on a general question: what was the best mechanism to restore the damaged production line without undermining the culture that he had invested so much in trying to create at Alba?

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