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MGT 216 Week 3 Learning Team Assignment The Ford Pinto Case Study

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Ford Pinto Case Dilemma
Business is business always aiming to maintain competitiveness and profitability as
indicators of success. However business people should never forget their social responsibilities
which are significantly important in maintaining the business ethics. In the case, alternative
solutions to improve the car safety have been identified but because of limited time, competition
became the top priority leaving behind the public safety by moving on with the plans of marketing
the car with unsafe spare part (De George, 2006, p. 298). The company waddled in unethical
decision blinded with the cost-benefit analysis which compared the value of life to economic costs.
Such unethical inhumane decision suggests complete ignorance and negligence of the rights of
others.
If I were involved in the ethical dilemma such as that of the Pinto Case, I would prefer to
choose whatever I believe is the most ethical decision. I would take the courage to remind the
management of the possible trouble waiting ahead if marketing of the unsafe car is pushed through.
I would remind the management that adding few dollars will not significantly affect the
competitiveness in the market in the long run. The car may have an added cost more than the
targeted price but once the consumers prove the good quality and high safety of the car the good
reputation of the company will help in gaining back the added amount invested in the car to
improve its safety. If that is not convincing to the management, then I would suggest informing or
warning the public on the risk carried by the Pinto car. The company with passion to stay on top of
the competition however will surely decline such suggestion.
If I will no see no any success on convincing the people involved in the company to make
ethical decision on marketing the Pinto Car, I would not hesitate to take courage to blow the
whistle. The public safety is at stake so standing on ones obligation by refusing to cooperate with

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the future marketing plans of the company and leaking the information to the public are among the
suggested way of blowing the whistle (Nadler & Schulman, 2006) that I will decide to do on the
next step. Whistle-blowing in such case I believe is justifiable where the whistle-blower deserves to
gain protection from the government (De George, 2006, p.304).
However I have to be prepared for worst of the worst as I can be fired instantly. Ford
Company may have been blinded by the idea that “Safety doesn’t sell” but intentional ignorance
and negligence of the value of human life in exchange to business competitiveness and profitability
will never cost a cent in the lights of ethics.
The Ford Motor Company encountered many external social pressures, which influenced
their decision in the Ford Pinto case. These social pressures include: increased risk of litigation and
lawsuits, reduction in sales, and the chance of Ford’s reputation being destroyed. The Ford
Corporation knew that the Pinto was dangerous. If the corporation continued to manufacture the
vehicle there was a risk of multiple lawsuits and litigation evolving. The corporation did a cost-
benefit analysis to determine how many people were likely to be killed, and how this would affect
the corporation monetarily. The cost-benefit analysis would estimate the cost the company would be
assessed with if a certain percentage of the deceased persons’ families successfully sued the
company (DeGeorge, 2006, pp. 298-299). The corporation chose to cut their losses and stop
manufacturing the Pinto. Even if the problem was corrected, the dangers of the Ford Pinto had
already come to surface, which had destroyed the reputation of the product and led to a reduction in
sales. The general public would not invest money into a product that once had a high risk of danger
even if a total renovation was made and all risk factors were eliminated. Ford Motor Company
would have better luck at cutting their losses and investing their money into a safer product.
Viewing this case with a period eye, the decisions that would be made today, are not the
same decisions that were made in 1971. In 1971, unlike today, there was not a true sense of ethical

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and moral responsibility by corporate America. Until, about 20 years ago, so little was known
about the topic of organizational ethics. With rare exceptions, knowledge was limited to a few
surveys saying that ethics is a problem in organizations. Since the classic studies of business ethics
conducted in the 1960s and 1970s, managers have repeatedly reported their own skepticism
regarding organizational ethics. (Treviño & Nelson, (2007) Times have since changed and today a
person’s career can be damaged if an ethical issue is mishandled.
The decisions made by Ford to proceed with the production of the Pinto even with the
knowledge of the potential of injury or even death that could result from not spending an additional
dollar in production costs would not be made today. The demand of society for safety and quality
that exists today would prevent that same decision to be made in 2009. Ford waited eight years to
change the design of the Pinto because of their internal “cost-benefit analysis,” which places a
dollar value on human life, said it wasn’t profitable to make the changes sooner. (Treviño & Nelson)
If Ford were under ethical scrutiny as current organizations embark on today, up to 900 lives would
have been saved.
The additional decision of Ford to not forewarn the consumer of the potential danger would
also not occur today. Today’s corporate America would communicate potential risks and recall the
product if it were identified that an issue existed. In 2009, unlike in 1971, Ford would recognize
that the costs associated with a recall are far less than the costs associated with deaths and injuries.
The costs that were not taken into consideration in 1971 were not just monetary, but image related
as well. In 2009, corporations are keenly aware of how they are perceived in the eye of the
consumer. The jury declared Ford not guilty and although Ford Motor Company obeyed the law,
the law wasn’t as it should have been. When it comes to protecting the consumer everyone
involved should be held accountable for the safety and protection of a human life. Nowadays an
organization would never get away with the type of ethical behavior Ford displayed in 1971 due to
the knowledge known in business ethics today.

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