In a world economy, competition becomes cutthroat and ethics become suspect. In early 2001, General Motors knew that it had a major problem with its newly engineered ignition switch that was to be used in the Saturn and Cobalt model automobiles and waited almost ten years to do something about it. The engineer in charge of designing the ignition switch Ray DeGiorgio knew of torque issues in the switch assembly but, facing pressing timelines he choose to ignore them. The switch had been plagued with several issues from the ignition switch’s inception. Electrical issues were discovered in the switches early stage testing within the lab as well as in test vehicles. The main issue with the faulty ignition is that the weight from a heavy key ring could accidentally turn the ignition to the off position and making the automobile inoperable. After more extensive studies it was also verified that the ignition could be shut off just by the knee brushing up against the ignition or key ring. DeGiorgio got the switch to a point in which it was functioning but, not perfectly. Delphi, the supplier of the switch asked DeGiorgio if they wanted them to run further test on the switch to try and rectify the issue with the low torque and Degiorgio replied “maintain present course” Ray DeGiorgio displayed his lack of caring by also signing the communication to Delphi as Ray (tired of this switch from hell) DeGiorgio. (The switch from hell: GM’s debacle. (2014). Retrieved from www.engineeringethicsblogspot.com/2014/06/)
When you get down to the nuts and bolts of the ethical issue at hand it is obvious that it did not matter that the name of the Design release engineer was Ray DeGiorgio. Any engineer placed in a position of responsibility that affects the safety of thousands of human lives has to remain ethically steadfast in his or her decision making process. Pressures from management to meet deadlines and the difficulty of the task of developing the new switch ultimately were major contributing factors to hundreds of fatalities because General Motors never took the time to make sure the switch was error free and one hundred percent accurate. DeGiorgio however; did try to rectify the problem in the switch but, well after defective automobiles had been sold.
DeGiorgio made a silent supplier –specification change in 2006 that did not change the part number or notify the others within the organization that there was a significant change in the part. The silent supply-specification change went against GM policy and caused difficulty in tracing back the issues with the faulty switch. In 2013 General Motors tried to source the problem but because DeGiorgio did not follow General Motors policy and sent in silent supplier –specification this made it that much harder to rectify the situation.
General Motors has listed under social responsibility on its website "Quality and safety are at the top of the agenda at General Motors."( Hemphill, Thomas. (2014, July). As recalls mount, was it worth bailing out the ‘old GM’?. Retrieved from www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2014/07/28/) Apparently General Motors lost its way and navigated from its self-proclaimed number one goal. General Motors has now integrated social responsibilities into its job performance reviews to help rebuild a fractured culture that bred unethical decisions like the one made in the faulty switch decision. Principles of self- interest came in play with DeGiorgio when he had to make a decision to move forward with the switch as is or to take the time to run more extensive test on the switch with more torque added. DeGiorgio decided that he was going to press forward with a faulty because it worked for the most part in his eyes. DeGiorgio knew that the faulty switch could stall the vehicle but, experts cannot say if he knew that while stalling the car he knew that it would lead...
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