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The Ford Pinto Case

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Business Case (The Ford Pinto)

There was strong competition for Ford in the American small-car market from Volkswagen and several Japanese companies in the 1960's. To fight the competition, Ford rushed its newest car the Pinto into production in much less time than is usually required to develop a car. The regular time to produce an automobile is 43 months but Ford took 25 months only (Satchi, L., 2005). Although Ford had access to a new design which would decrease the possibility of the Ford Pinto from exploding, the company chose not to implement the design, which would have cost $11 per car, even though it had done an analysis showing that the new design would result in 180 less deaths. The company defended itself on the grounds that it used the accepted risk-benefit analysis to determine if the monetary costs of making the change were greater than the societal benefit. Based on the numbers Ford used, the cost would have been $137 million versus the $49.5 million price tag put on the deaths, injuries, and car damages, and thus Ford felt justified not implementing the design change (Legget, C., 1999). This was a ground breaking decision because it failed to use the common standard of whether a harm was a result of an action on trespass or harm as a result of an action on the case (Ferguson, A., 2005).

From reading this case, we realize the company did not apply the managing ethics competency in building its goals and structure. Managing ethics competency involves the overall ability to incorporate values and principles that distinguish right from wrong in making decisions and choosing behaviors (Hellriegel, J., 2004). Ford did not approach the question of redesigning the gas tank to make the car safer versus waiting another year allowing the foreign market to dominate subcompact vehicles. Their goal was only to maximize profits. They did not into account the interests of their share holders and when they did come into consideration, they were analyzed against profits. One has nothing to do with the other. Their goal should not have been a race to make the most affordable subcompact car. Their focus should have been to make a subcompact car that was not only most affordable but also the safest subcompact. They were aware of the dangers associated with the rush production. It would have made a difference if the $11 savings had been passed on to the customers because they would've kept their reputation and integrity in tact and possibly gain customers who were not considering the vehicle. Any rational customer would not have chosen to save $11 to drive a car at the risk of dying. It is never appropriate to knowingly jeopardize people's lives. That is a criminal act. Their actions were socially irresponsible, ethically and morally wrong. They did not consider their own reputation nor did they consider that they represented America in the industry.

As a financial manager at Ford, I am obligated to protect, enhance and promote the profits of the organization and the decisions I make will reflect my social responsibility. First, I would identify the goals of the organization and the steps taken in the past to maintain and create wealth. I would



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