Inside the VW Scandal

business_ethics_highlights_2 The article linked below is a spectacular bit of reporting, providing insight into the scandal related to Volkswagen’s years-long effort to cover up its falsification of emissions tests.

Anyone who knows just a bit of the literature on the ways that context (including especially incentives and corporate culture) affects behaviour ought to realize that had they been a Volkswagen employee in a relevant position, they too likely would have participated in the conspiracy. A wise manager would read this story and wonder, “How should I manage my team, and structure my workplace, to make stuff like this less likely, given that I know that all of us are imperfect, and susceptible to engaging in bad behaviour?”

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LINK: Inside VW’s Campaign of Trickery (by Jack Ewing, for the New York Times, adapted from Ewing’s book, Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal)

…Media reports on the scandal have usually focused on Volkswagen’s original sin: the company’s decision in 2006 to equip its diesels with illegal software.

But the most costly aspect of the wrongdoing for Volkswagen may have been the cover-up that the company orchestrated after regulators first became suspicious.

The following reconstruction, based on interviews with dozens of participants and a review of internal Volkswagen documents and communications, shows that the cover-up spanned years and lasted until days before the company’s lies were exposed. Volkswagen employees manipulated not only the engine software, but also generated reams of false or misleading data to hide the fact that millions of vehicles had been purposely engineered to deceive regulators and spew deadly gases into the air….

What do you think?


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