Ford Pinto

Topics: Ford Pinto, Ford Motor Company, Automotive industry Pages: 5 (1516 words) Published: August 15, 2010
Ford had Responsibility to Fix Pinto
The Ford Pinto case study clearly presents an unethical and immoral practice that shows corporate greed for a positive bottom line is more important than the value of human life. Along with the issue of greed is the need to outdo the competition to be the best in the automobile industry. Together these issues cloud the judgment of Ford’s management. The use of cost-benefit analysis to determine if the flaw in Ford Pinto automobiles is worth the financial risk in comparison to the value of human life is unconscionable and indefensible. Because of this cost-benefit analysis, Ford made a costly decision not only in terms of money but also human life, pain and suffering for victims and their families, and to its own reputation. Ford chose to pay for possible lawsuits in lieu of recalling and repairing the Ford Pinto. Many deaths and catastrophic injuries were the result of Ford’s unethical decision that resulted in dozens of lawsuits and also led to the three reckless homicide indictments against Ford Motor Company. If Ford had the right business ethic and moral integrity to put consumer safety first, instead of profit and competition, there would have been no loss of life or financial suffering because there would not have been lawsuits. Dilemma Solution

The solution to the dilemma relative to the Ford Pinto case is that the company should have taken appropriate action to ensure that the car was safe to operate. Lee Iacocca, along with Ford engineers, had an ethical and moral responsibility to ascertain the vehicle was safe to operate before rolling them off the factory floor (Birsch, 2001-2006). The drive to make a profit overshadowed Ford’s concern for consumer safety. The company should have taken the initiative to make the appropriate safety alterations before allowing the car to go on the market. Knowing that the car was unsafe for public highway use left the Ford Motor Company open to civil lawsuits that could have been avoided (Birsch, 2001-2006). The actions by Lee Iacocca and the other executives were careless and in gross disregard for human safety and life. Events relative to the Ford Pinto case demonstrate some of the ethical issues related to technology, skill, and safety. To manufacture a trendy but affordable small-sized vehicle in line with low operating costs, the company made a judgment call about the location and protection of the fuel tank (Birsch, 2001-2006). Installing a gas tank that was safer in addition to a more appropriate gas tank location was technologically feasible, as was installing an inexpensive buffer, but consumer affordability and style of the vehicle took precedence over safety. The actions of the Ford engineers, inhibited by design and cost restriction as well as deadline pressure, exemplify engineering choices often made from business marketing strategies. The vehicle, designed to have a short rear-end, limited the engineers’ alternatives for fuel tank safety and location. As a result engineers placed the tank behind the rear axle instead of over the axle (Birsch, 2001-2006). Another example of a restraint on the engineers was management’s apparent mandate that the vehicle cost be no more than $2,000 and weigh no more than 2,000 pounds (Birsch, 2001-2006). However, customer safety should have been paramount over company profits. The company also ignored other ethical and professional obligations of its engineers, the relations between different parts of organizations, ethical decision-making processes, and efficient government safety policies (Birsch, 2001-2006). External Social Pressure

The Ford Motor Company’s production of the Pinto meant that there would be an American car that would be competitive to the smaller Japanese cars. This meant production had to be both inexpensive and rapid to keep up with public demand. For this reason, there was initially very little external...

References: Birsch, D. (2001-2006). Ford Pinto Case. Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics.
De George, R. (2005). Business Ethics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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Trevino, L., & Nelson, K. (2006). Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk About How To Do It
Trumbull, M. (2010, May 20). Toyota recall: Automaker focused more on damage control than
fixes? Retrieved from The Christian Science Monitor:
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