Excelsior College Ford Pinto Case Study

The nature of ethical decision making requires that we understand mistakes made by individuals and organizations in the past and evaluate the ways in which personal values interact with organizational culture to increase the likelihood of unethical decisions..

This activity allows you to build your evaluation skills to identify issues that create environments more likely to fall prey to unethical decision making through policies, procedures, and organizational norms. The 1977 Ford Pinto case is often used to help create a deeper understanding about the dilemmas that impact not only an organization’s public persona, long-term profitability, and consumer safety, but also considers each employee’s responsibility in the decisions. We are using this case to add a historical perspective to our exploration of current standards in the industry.

Read Case 2.2, Pinto Case on pages 77-79 of your textbook before continuing on with this activity.

The Ford Pinto case provides a foundation for a discussion surrounding the challenges faced by engineers and managers within an organization that creates products for consumers. Safety is a concern when manufacturing vehicles. As a consumer, we consider the safety ratings of vehicles we are interested in purchasing for ourselves or our family. The Ford Pinto case is a cautionary tale for car manufacturers on the danger of thinking of the cost of a life as simply a financial factor. Looking back, it is easy to say that the decision to leave a faulty vehicle on the roads was unethical. However, this does not mean that manufacturers don’t continue to make choices about consumer safety that could be looked at with the same critical lens through which we currently view this particular case.

With this in mind, consider the following question:

  • Choose a theory from Chapter Two to assess the following:
    • “Assess Ford’s and GM’s actions with respect to SUV rollovers. Have the automakers met their moral obligation to consumers, or have they acted wrongly by not doing more to increase SUV safety? Should they be held either morally or legally responsible for deaths from rollovers that would not have occurred in other vehicles? What should automakers do to increase SUV safety?” (Shaw, 2017)
  • Make sure that you take a theory from Chapter Two and use that as the lens through which you analyze the complexity of the situation while answering the questions.
  • You need to respond to other learners. In each response, take an opposing theory from Chapter Two to use as a point of reference to question the choices made by your peer. This allows for deeper exploration of the theories in relation to a specific business situation.

One of the considerations when participating in course discussions is to keep an open mind and be appreciative of the fact that we don’t all share the same perspective. Ethical issues can many times bring emotion to the surface. Work to take a step back and use this as a learning experience about both yourself and others that you might work with on a daily basis.

Your responses to the discussion questions should relate the assigned readings and viewings to the discussion topic and should not consist only of personal opinion. Your opinion is important to the discussion, but it is also important that you add connections to the material to support your views. Without a foundation in the literature, your opinion has little professional value. For example, “Based on Trevino and Nelson’s stance that cultural relativism creates an environment where unethical behavior is justified through the cultural discourse (year, P#), the discussion should center around……” This type of statement allows you to connect your views to the literature. This is possible even when you are providing personal examples.

 
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