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Ethics and the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal - Assignment Example

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The assignment “Ethics and the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal” discusses such an ethical dilemma of the famous global brand when all evidence points to the involvement of top decision-makers to make the fraudulent scheme a reality and bring it to the market…
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Extract of sample "Ethics and the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal"

Download file to see previous pages Emissions test ‘defeat devices’ have traditionally been illegal. In fact, the EPA had already fined General Motors US$11 million for employing such devices to beat carbon monoxide emissions testing in 1995. However, such devices are not entirely new to the auto industry. Auto manufacturers exploit loopholes in the various testing regimes and environmental agencies have ‘discovered’ as much: in a number of cases, vehicles have registered different laboratory test and ‘real-world’ emissions outcomes.  Indeed, on-the-road CO2 emissions are, on average, 40% higher than official fuel economy figures (ICCT, 2014). Nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions- the specific talking point in the Volkswagen scandal- in the ‘real-world’ can be up to x0.6 higher than in the lab conditions (ICCT, 2015).
In VW’s case, the ‘real-world’ emissions were at least 40 orders of magnitude higher than those legally allowed by the EPA. To further illustrate the scale of the problem, the devices mirrored EPA’s testing conditions by taking note of the vehicle’s speed, changes in barometric pressure, movement of the steering wheel and the duration and extent of engine use so as to produce the desired results. By so doing, VW demonstrated that not only were its efforts at beating the system insidious but that they were also centralized and well coordinated. It is difficult to imagine that such an effort was the result of a rogue employee or a compartmentalized attempt at subterfuge. It certainly represents a system-wide failure in operationalizing corporate ethics.
The following were the primary stakeholders responsible for the breakdown: Research and Development (R&D) staff from whom the designs for the devices may have originated, Software engineering professionals including software auditors and security analysts who would build out the devices, Frontline supervising staff who would be in charge of ensuring deadlines of product development were met, Quality and Assurance (Q&A) software engineers with whom rest the decision to ship the product, A legal advisory staff that would be required to provide a legal opinion on the use of the devices and who, once the allegations of their use emerged, would conduct the year-long campaign of discrediting them in conjunction with the public relations (PR) staff,  Compliance staff that would provide subject-matter expertise on EPA’s ‘anti-diesel’ testing regime and the differences from that of the EU’s that may have been viewed as pro-diesel, Corporate leadership that made the final determination that would lead to the allocation of R&D and product development funds and provide cover for implicated staff and the C.E.O. with whom ultimate responsibility lies for the group’s operations.
Using a consequentialist approach, VW as a corporate individual has a right to deservedly pursue higher profits. This is a just and reasonable need and is, by and large, the purpose of a for-profit organization. In turn, shareholders reward the publicly-owned company with a higher valuation for achieving higher profits. In doing so, the company simply choose to install the defeat devices and justified the decision afterward, practicing a form of pessimistic ethical conduct where stakeholders other than its stockholders need not be convinced of the rational foundation of its decisions. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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