Ethical decision-making is vital for the success of any business around the world. Organizations need to measure the moral levels of their actions and determine their effects on both internal and external stakeholders. The Pinto Fires Case highlights some of the ethical dilemmas businesses faces as they try to satisfy their customers and maximize their profits in the business environment. Ford found it difficult to change the dangerous gas tank because this would have affected its overall sales and the level of competition with other auto companies. Nevertheless, the company could have been more prudent in cases where it could have applied the eight-step decision-making model to this dilemma. The key aspects of the model include the identification of key facts, determination of ethical issues, identification of stakeholders affected by the dilemma, consequences of specific and alternative actions, relevant obligations, integrity standards, creative alternative actions, and what the gut says about the right action to undertake.
The Pinto Fires Case is reflective of the unethical decisions made by businesses without considering the effects of such decisions on the relevant stakeholders.
The Philosophical Approach the Recall Coordinator Followed in His Recommendation to Continue Production of Pinto
The recall coordinator utilized the deontological approach in his recommendation to continue the production of Pinto. Conway and Gawronski (2013) affirm that the deontological approach of ethical decision-making focuses on duties, obligations, and the relevant principles available in the situation. In line with the decision-making model, it can be noted that the field coordinator relied on the initial cost-benefit analysis, which indicated that the costs of changing the fuel tank were greater than benefits. In his position as the recall officer, he had the duty and obligation of promoting the interest of the company and ensuring it remained competitive at any given time. He solely relied on the cost-benefit analysis findings that no improvements on the field tank were warranted because of heir effect on the profits of the company. However, he did not consider the immediate ethical issues relating to the potential loss of lives. Consequently, this highlights the lack of exploiting creative alternatives to the problem at hand. The position of consumers, who are the key stakeholders, were not effectively considered in terms of their safety, as the recall officer aimed at protecting the business interest of Ford and ensuring it was in the best position to compete with other auto companies.
The possible consequences of this decision were not effectively considered in line with the deontological approach that was based on his duties and obligations to protect Ford from any form of financial collapse. According to Treviño and Nelson (2014), the recall coordinator believed that it was not sustainable to prevent a few deaths and lead to the collapse of the company because of limited competitive opportunities. Community standards on integrity aim at promoting moral practices among all members by ensuring that every life is secured. In this case, the recall officer seemed to ignore the relevant community standards on integrity by choosing Ford’s business interests over human life. Weber (2007) agrees that the consideration of overall community values is a tremendous step in the making of crucial decisions in instances of a dilemma. It is apparent that he did not base on his gut in trying to find out the correct solution to this problem. It would have been better to secure the Pinto consumers by changing the fuel tank at the highest cost because it would have had an added advantage of safety and regard for individuals’ lives.
Did Ford or the Recall Coordinator Demonstrate Moral Awareness? Why or Why Not?
Ford and its recall coordinator did not demonstrate any form of moral awareness. As noted earlier, Ford and its recall coordinator based their decision on the results of the cost-benefit analysis that had been conducted in the market. Human life cannot be traded with anything or bought with any kind of money, as Ford and its coordinator tried to estimate in making their decision. For instance, TTreviño and Nelson (2014) affirm that Ford placed a monetary value on human life indicating that there was a ‘cost to society’ of $200,725 every time a person died in a car accident. Placing monetary value on human life and making a decision based on that highlights the gross lack of moral awareness on the part of Ford and its recall coordinator.
In the course of making this decision, it is clear that Ford and its field coordinator identified the affected stakeholder group, but failed to protect them effectively. Morality would have directed them into making a decision that protects human life at any cost without anticipating immediate profits. Therefore, profits would have obviously come gradually, as the company adheres to ethical standards in such a dilemma. The consequences of the decision to customers (stakeholders) were also duly identified because they insisted that automobile accidents were inevitable. However, the response levels to curb this exhibited the lack of moral awareness and respect for human life. Jiang and Bowen (2011) reiterate that the lack of depth and consideration of creative alternative actions in the ethical decision-making process also made it difficult for Ford and the recall coordinator to demonstrate moral awareness in their decision. In the overall sense, Ford and its recall coordinator were overly business minded, and did not demonstrate any sense of moral awareness because of the many deficiencies it contained in respect to the effective ethical decision-making steps.
Place Yourself in the Role of the Recall Coordinator at Ford. What Philosophical Approach Would You Have Decided to Take and Why?
Placing myself in the position of the recall coordinator at Ford, I would have taken the consequential approach with a focus on utilitarianism. The utilitarian approach would have been more effective in this case, because it would have secured Pinto consumers from the loss of lives by eliminating the consequences of a dangerous fuel tank. With this approach in place, it would have been easier to change the position of the fuel tank immediately and safeguard all lives.
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