Case Study on Volkswagen Company
Order ID 53563633773 Type Essay Writer Level Masters Style APA Sources/References 4 Perfect Number of Pages to Order 5-10 Pages
Case Study on Volkswagen Company
Case Study on Volkswagen Company
Table of contents
Contents Abstract 2 Background 3 Engineering failure 4 Ethical analysis 5 Controversy 5 Key players in the scandal 5 Volkswagen Company Limited 5 Environmental Protection Agency 6 Utilitarianism 6 Virtue theory 6 Recommendations 7 Conclusion 8 References 10
In September of 2015, the world woke up to shocking news by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that a group of employees at the Volkswagen Company had embedded a device in the German made vehicles to give a false report on the emission tests. This heinous act was suspected to have been conducted by a section of software engineers but the exact number of those involved had not been established. The impacts of this mayhem were so fatal in that from the year 2008 to 2015, more than 428000 Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars had emitted Nitrogen oxide which was forty times more that it was allowed by the Clean Air Act.
The reason for the scandal was prompted by a technological shortcoming which forced the company to cheat in the emission test. There had been very tough regulations on emission standards imposed by the EPA (Klier & Linn, 2016).
To prevent such a scandal in the future environmental regulatory authorities should initiate supportive programs to ensure that the emissions are kept below the maximum standards set.
In the past few decades, environmental conservation had become one of the few significant emerging issues across the globe. A number of environmental protection agencies and the United Nations were involved. One of these environmental protection agencies that were at the forefront in the war against environmental pollution across Europe and America was the Environmental Protection Agency based in the United States of America. Since 1970, EPA has imposed so many restrictions against emissions of all classes of automobiles (Board, 2016).
These new standards created very immense hardships to automobile manufacturing companies and one of them being the Volkswagen Company. It was at this juncture that some of the software engineers at the company decided to go ‘’ultra vires’’ and created fake devices that were installed in the company’s vehicles to change on vehicle performance and produce the required results as par the standards of the EPA. This was aimed at creating a false pretence that Volkswagen vehicles adhered to the emission standards set by the EPA and this would improve customer confidence and boost the sales of the automobile vehicles in American and European markets. Within six years since the program was initiated, devices were intentionally defaulted to convey false results, the ‘’German machines’’ had produced 36.7 million kilograms of nitrogen oxide to the environment. This emissions endangered human lives and increased the risk of contracting respiratory diseases.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Volkswagen engineers had designed a software that had the capability of performing a wide variety of highly complex tasks such as monitoring of speed, engine operation, air pressure and position of the steering wheel. The software was programmed to make a determination of whether a vehicle was operating in a controlled condition as in the case of being stationary in a laboratory environment.
The ‘’defeat device’’ was then programmed to operate the engine below the normal power and thus lowering emissions of nitrogen oxide. The defeat device is a programmer writing code that communicates to the computer by telling it that it is on official cycle and allows for changes in how the emissions controls the system. It was embedded amongst millions of codes which were difficult to detect. According to an investigative report by the EPA, if the default device was not installed, then the real results would be forty times above the allowed levels in the United States of America. The engineers had been subjected to intense pressure of ensuring their vehicles’ emissions were below the prescribed standards as approved by the EPA but succumbed to the pressure. This is due to the fact that they could not withstand seeing sanctions imposed against them due to environmental regulations which they had not been ready yet to comply to. Thus, the engineers with the help of some key individuals in the top level of management decided to collude and created a faulty device that could show wrong results in terms of emission levels (Waesch, 2016).
Over the past years, Volkswagen Company has been grappling with the aftermath of a scandal which has tainted the image of the Company. A research team from the West Virginia University led by Dan Cander conducted emission tests on small passenger cars from Volkswagen Company on the May of 2014 and the results they obtained were really shocking. The tests had been conducted on specified Volkswagen cars which included BMW and Mercedes.
They uncovered that Volkswagen had apparently been fitting a variety of their diesel cars with a ‘’defeat device’’. This was prompted by the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed very strict regulations on automobiles. The regulations were that all diesel manufactures were required to have a software installed in a car to clean the diesel exhaust (Gates, Guilbert, & Jack, 2015).
The Volkswagen engineers designed emissions software which would then be shut off to improve fuel performance. This is due to the fact that they did not want to design a proper emissions system that would comply with the regulations of all environmental regulations stakeholders.
In 2015, it found Volkswagen Company guilty of failing to comply with the emission standards it had earlier set in 2005.
This is a theory which places more emphasis on producing the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people (DesJardins & Joseph, 2009). The Volkswagen Company’s action plans are oppositional of the principles of the theory. Over the course of the whole scandal, no party benefited from its action plans, neither the Company nor the customers. The customers were left in a dilemma of what to do with their faulty cars, the number of employees had to be slashed to cater for the billions of dollars spent in rectifying the situation and managers had to ‘’chew a humble pie’’ and accept full responsibility of the scandal which tarnished their image among their subordinates. Volkswagen had only created issues for everyone involved. From the theory that ‘’determining whether an action is considered as good or bad directly relates to its consequences’’ clearly indicates that at no time were Volkswagen’s actions good whatsoever.
Virtue theory is based on determining ‘’what type of person one is’’. It seeks to uncover the character traits that constitute a good human life. The four main virtues under this theory are courage, honesty, fairness and self control.
Form the scandal, none of the four main v virtues were uphold by the engineers of the Company. Being courageous means standing for the truth no matter the consequences but the engineers decided to invert the idea by deciding to take the consequences into their own hands by installing ‘’defeat devices’’ and lying about the emission tests. The unwanted actions of lying about the emission tests by the engineers prove beyond no doubt that the engineers were dishonest. The lack of self control prompted the engineers to make irrational decisions just for the sake of protecting their personal interests. They made a decision of lying about the emission tests since the emission regulations had been so tight. The company failed to be just and fair to its customers by allowing them to buy their cars which had ‘’defeat devices’’. The company should have worked hard and deployed more resources that were needed to ensure it complied with the emission s regulations.
The business culture and structure of the company are both to blame for the scandal that resulted into enormous losses for the Volkswagen Company. The business ethic concept which is the compliance-based fails to treat the employees ethically and thus employees are left with the pressure to either strive hard to protect their jobs or opt for other dubious methods of making money from the company.
The company should therefore be focussed on valuing its workers and provision of moral support to workers through training programs and counselling. The system should change from a compliance based approach to a value-based approach where workers work together to achieve desired results. Value based ethics also has the benefit of ensuring democracy whereby employees have the leeway of presenting their grievances to their seniors without any fear of harassment or ridicule.
The EPA does a good job of imposing very strict emission standards on the automobile industry but it should ensure that it does not pressurise companies into meeting their rules and regulations. It should therefore come up with mechanisms to support automobile companies into meeting their stringent rules like forming partnerships to provide necessary assistance either on the legal set up or additional knowledge on how to scale faster and meet the standards set. Companies should also look for other methods of responding to threat of legitimacy and avoid unfair means of complying with the law. Most companies not just Volkswagen always employ defensive mechanisms to hinder public scrutiny and evade any suspicions of purposely manipulating the expectations of the regulators.
The actions of employees have a pivotal role in determining whether a company will be successful or not. Sometimes the top level management is always oblivious of what is going on and this can lead to serious consequences for the company as in the case with Volkswagen.
The cheating in diesel emission test was unethical because it involved using of shady means to comply with the standards of the environmental regulatory bodies. Secondly the engineers involved failed to live according to the standards of their professions as their profession does not allow them to cheat but to use the knowledge gained in their profession to create solutions to challenges in their respective places of work. Thirdly, there were severe consequences faced both by the public and the company which would be avoided if the issue of non compliance was handled ethically. Another way of having a permanent solution to this challenge is by proposing another source of energy that would replace fuel.
Board, T. E. (2016, February). Beyond the Emissions Test at VW. The New York Times .
DesJardins, & Joseph, R. (2009). An introduction to Business Ethics (5th ed.). New York: Mc-Graw Hill Higher Education.
Gates, Guilbert, & Jack, E. (2015, May). How Volkswagen is Grappling with its Diesel Scandal. The New York Times .
Klier, T., & Linn, J. (2016). Comparing US and EU Approaches to Regulating Automotive Emissions and Fuel Economy.
Waesch, M. H. (2016, February). Volkswagen Sales for First Time in 13 Years. Dow Jones .
Yadigaroglu. (2015, December). A Green Way to Punish Cheating Volkswagen. Newsweek .
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