Posted: September 6th, 2023
The nature of ethical decision making requires
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 by identifying 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 studied in order to help create a deeper understanding about the dilemmas that not only impact an organization’s public persona, long-term profitability, and consumer safety, but also each employee’s responsibility for the decisions. Read: Dowie, M. (1977, September/October). Pinto madness. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Retrieved from http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness Then, prepare a case analysis on the topic by locating and researching at least three sources (not including the Dowie article and your text) to discover additional information about the company and its ethical dilemma. Use your text to create a foundation for the ethics theory. This must be a concise evaluation of the case, so provide information on your understanding of the application of theory and personal values. Develop your case analysis using the five following sections: Section 1: Introduction and situational analysis: Describe the ethical dilemma, giving appropriate background information. The term “dilemma” implies that there are pros and cons to various options, even if some are clearly more socially acceptable than others. This is also where you do your situational analysis – identifying factors related to the individual(s) involved (consider the readings from this module), company and managerial practices and policies, external factors such as economic pressure, and any other aspects of the situation that you believe helped create the dilemma. Section 2: Stakeholder analysis: Identify the key stakeholders and how they are potentially impacted by the various options inherent in the dilemma. Section 3: Analysis based on ethical theories: Analyze the ethical dilemma from the perspective of cultural relativism (how it relates to cultural norms – what society would view as acceptable, as well as what is legal), teleology (looking at consequences and acting for the greater good), deontology (duties and principles), and virtue. Note that the stakeholder analysis is particularly pertinent to the consequentialist approach, and that one of the challenges is estimating the positive and negative impacts on relevant stakeholders. Do the best you can, looking at both good and bad consequences for each stakeholder group. Ensure that you summarize the overall situation and come to a conclusion about the greater good. Section 4: Conclusion and recommendations. Up to now, you have been analyzing and comparing options. Here is where you pull together the different threads of your analysis and determine whether or not the company did the right thing. Also, make recommendations about what the company should have done. Ensure that your justifications clearly flow from your analysis. Make managerial and policy recommendations that would help avoid similar ethical dilemmas in the future and provide guidance to help those facing a similar dilemma. Section 5: References. List at least three sources (in addition to the Dowie article and your text) where you located additional information about the company and the associated ethical dilemma(s).
Introduction and Situational Analysis
The Ford Pinto was a subcompact car produced by Ford Motor Company from 1971 to 1980. The Pinto was designed to be a low-cost car that would compete with Japanese imports. However, the Pinto was plagued with safety problems, including a design flaw in the fuel tank that made it prone to rupture in rear-end collisions.
In 1977, Mother Jones magazine published an article titled “Pinto Madness” that alleged that Ford had known about the fuel tank defect but had decided not to fix it because the cost of the fix would have exceeded the cost of the expected lawsuits. The article also alleged that Ford had conducted a cost-benefit analysis that showed that it would be cheaper to pay out lawsuits than to fix the fuel tank defect.
The Pinto case became a major scandal and led to a number of lawsuits against Ford. In 1978, a jury awarded $127.8 million in damages to a man who was severely injured in a rear-end collision that ruptured the fuel tank in his Pinto. The verdict was later reduced to $3.5 million, but it remains the largest personal injury verdict in U.S. history.
The key stakeholders in the Ford Pinto case include:
Ford Motor Company: The company that designed, manufactured, and sold the Pinto.
Pinto owners: The people who bought and drove Pintos.
Victims of Pinto fires: The people who were injured or killed in Pinto fires.
Their families: The families of the people who were injured or killed in Pinto fires.
The public: The general public, who was concerned about the safety of the Pinto.
Analysis Based on Ethical Theories
The Ford Pinto case can be analyzed from the perspective of a number of ethical theories.
Cultural relativism: From a cultural relativist perspective, the ethicality of Ford’s decision not to fix the fuel tank defect would depend on the cultural norms of the society in which the decision was made. In some societies, it might be considered acceptable to put profits ahead of safety, while in other societies it would not.
Teleology: From a teleological perspective, the ethicality of Ford’s decision would depend on the consequences of the decision. If the decision resulted in more deaths and injuries than it prevented, then it would be considered unethical. However, if the decision resulted in fewer deaths and injuries than it prevented, then it would be considered ethical.
Deontology: From a deontological perspective, the ethicality of Ford’s decision would depend on whether or not the decision followed certain moral duties or principles. For example, some people might argue that Ford had a moral duty to protect the safety of its customers, even if it meant sacrificing profits. Others might argue that Ford had a moral duty to its shareholders to maximize profits, even if it meant putting the safety of its customers at risk.
Virtue ethics: From a virtue ethics perspective, the ethicality of Ford’s decision would depend on the character of the people who made the decision. If the people who made the decision were motivated by greed and a desire to maximize profits, then the decision would be considered unethical. However, if the people who made the decision were motivated by a desire to protect the safety of their customers, then the decision would be considered ethical.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The Ford Pinto case is a complex ethical dilemma with no easy answers. From a cultural relativist perspective, the ethicality of Ford’s decision would depend on the cultural norms of the society in which the decision was made. From a teleological perspective, the ethicality of Ford’s decision would depend on the consequences of the decision. From a deontological perspective, the ethicality of Ford’s decision would depend on whether or not the decision followed certain moral duties or principles. From a virtue ethics perspective, the ethicality of Ford’s decision would depend on the character of the people who made the decision.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not Ford’s decision was ethical is a matter of individual judgment. However, the case provides a valuable opportunity to explore the different ethical theories that can be used to analyze business decisions.
Managerial and Policy Recommendations
To help avoid similar ethical dilemmas in the future, Ford and other businesses should:
Conduct thorough risk assessments of their products and services.
Implement safety procedures and protocols to minimize the risk of harm to customers.
Create a culture of ethics and integrity within the organization.
Train employees on ethical decision-making.
Establish a system for reporting and investigating ethical violations.
By taking these steps, businesses can help to ensure that they are making ethical decisions that protect the safety of their customers and the public.