CMSC 495 UMGC Volkswagen Unet

Respond to Joseph:

The article that I choose to read was a New York Times book review titled “Emissions of Guilt. At Volkswagen, unethical practices and the push to be a market leader ended in a costly scandal.” In the article, Bethany McLean reviews “Faster, Higher, Farther. The Volkswagen Scandal” by Jack Ewing. The book takes a look at the ethical conundrum of using “defeat devices” to cheat on emissions tests in order to gain market leadership and dominance over the diesel auto industry.

In the book, Ewing describes Ferdinand Piech, a visionary whose leadership style fostered the saying “Impossible doesn’t exist.” According to Ewing, Piech was a demanding boss whose management style “emboldened subordinates to behave the same way toward their underlings (Bethany. 2017).” Unfortunately, this type of leadership enabled the diesel fraud to occur. The corporate culture defined few guidelines for ethical limits and “underlings always suffered the consequences (Bethany, 2017).” Ewing’s book mentions the following instances of how the unethical corporate culture affected the company’s employees:

  • Employees who had reservations about the illegal software had no place to turn.
  • Higher-ups overruled engineers who objected to the illegal software.
  • The people in charge were all too willing to resort to illegal behavior to fulfill the company’s ambitions (Bethany, 2017).

I think that the everyone has a responsibility to look at themselves and decide what kind of person, employee, or member of the community do that they want to be. Hopefully, they will choose to follow an ethical path and will carry ethical values with them as executives, managers and subordinates in the work place. As we can see in the Volkswagen case, a bad example set by a company’s leaders can point the company in the wrong direction when such ethical conundrums are faced. We should also see the value in enforcing effective whistle-blowing policies in the work place because it takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe in, especially if it is against the views of your superiors.

Bethany, M. (June 11, 2017). Emissions of Guilt. At Volkswagen, Unethical Practices And The Push To Be A Market Leader Ended In A Costly Scandal. [Review of the book Faster, Higher, Farther. The Volkswagen Scandal] New York Times, 11A.