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Volkswagen’s Diesel Fraud: Ethical Behaviour and Decision Making in the Workplace

The VW scandal

The VW scandal is a case that highlights significant inefficiencies in management. As such, the whole management team would be assigned responsibility for the scandal. This would be led by the CEO, Martin Winterport, who was the company’s head in the fraud case and was responsible for the cover-up. This is why he probably resigned after admitting his role in the occurrence. Additionally, the senior executives would also be accountable since they did not alert anyone despite being aware of the corruption and employee mistreatment. Moreover, the engineering staff also had a role in the scandal since they did not report the issues they noticed with the fuel inefficiencies and performance. Nonetheless, the engineers should have uncovered these discrepancies. Similarly, the management team should have alerted the Environmental Protection Agency of the issue regardless of the consequences.

Furthermore, it is fair to expect accountants and engineers to confront management over any unethical directives. This is because these professionals have codes of ethics that guide their professionalism and how to act in discharging their duties. This includes a fiduciary duty to customers and the public. Therefore, such employees should abide by the codes regardless of the pressure, and such responsibilities should be protected by the law to inhibit infringement from management.

Nonetheless, to avoid such scandals, the primary change to the board recommended would be to discard the two-board system and adopt the single-board one, which is predominant in the US. Moreover, the board should be given more independence to ensure that it serves only the company’s interests. This enhances corporate credibility and good governance to provide increased oversight. This would be complemented by increasing the influence and powers of the supervisory board compared to the executive committee. This would ensure that the latter becomes answerable to the former, which would be critical in preventing similar scandals.

A Balancing Act

Undoubtedly, being a senior manager for a call center in an extensive and profitable organization is one of the most challenging roles. However, this responsibility can be frustrated even further by increased customer complaints and employee turnover. Thus, to ensure that organization maintains its stature and continues to make profits, this negative trend must be reversed. This will involve looking at the essence of ethical behavior across all organizational levels, evaluating the business value of a positive ethical work environment, and ensuring managers and employees are provided with the skills, tools, and knowledge for daily operations and ethical decision-making.

Importance of Ethical Behavior

Ethical behavior at all organizational levels is primarily essential in promoting cooperation and teamwork. This is because ethics ensures that employee behaviors are aligned. Consequently, this ensures that trust, openness, and partnership are fostered and all levels (Grigoropoulos, 2019). Moreover, it facilitates better productivity since employees get to know what is expected from them through an aligned code of ethical behavior. Additionally, with this teamwork and cooperation, integrity and honesty are maintained across all organizational levels as everyone strives to meet the vision and mission of the organization.

Further, ethical behavior ensures that emotional security is provided. With such high standards of morality, respect is maintained across all organizational levels, which ensures there is no harassment and employees feel more secure. Additionally, it provides that disciplinary actions are taken to ensure the working environment is retained (Grigoropoulos, 2019). As such, the organization maintains its workforce and attracts more talented employees, which in the long run boosts its public image (Grigoropoulos, 2019). With an enhanced company reputation, the organization can build customer loyalty and maintain a competitive advantage over other firms because of proper ethical behavior across all organizational levels.

Business Value of Creating a Positive Ethical Work Environment

In the bargain, as a senior call center manager in such an organization, it is essential to consider the business value of a positive ethical work environment. This starts with the customer loyalty and marketing advantages brought about by proper ethical standards. Essentially, consumers value respectful and fair treatment (Grigoropoulos, 2019). This ensures that they stay loyal to a given brand, and they recommend other people based on the services they receive. This is essential for business success as serving an existing customer does not entail additional marketing costs (Grigoropoulos, 2019). Moreover, these customers act as agents for the organization, which in the long run amounts to marketing advantages.

Again, a positive ethical work environment improves employee morale through ethical and honest conduct. This essentially ensures that the organization can retain top employees, ensuring productivity remains effective (Metwally et al., 2019). Moreover, with such morale, employees can associate adequately with customers and offer them suitable services, boosting the firm’s reputation (Grigoropoulos, 2019). This is also essential in ensuring that the organization protects its assets through appropriate ethical standards, preventing document falsification and property theft by employees.

Additionally, a positive working environment enhances compliance with regulations and legalities. When ethics are in play, all employees ensure that they act and discharge their duties as required and report any deviations to the managing authorities (Metwally et al., 2019). This also provides that the company does not deal with unprecedented lawsuits, which leads to vast financial liabilities. With this, the organization can also maintain its social responsibility to society through its role in compliance with the outlined rules and regulations.

Framework for Ethical Decision Making

It is also essential to identify a framework for employees and managers to acquire the skills, knowledge, and tools for ethical decision-making in daily operations. The framework should primarily involve recognition of the ethical issue (Farmer, 2018). Once the problem is identified, the facts relating to it should be recognized to provide options for acting. The possibilities should then be evaluated, including other alternative actions. This should be done primarily based on utilitarianism, wherein the manager or employee assesses whether the option leads to the best and least harm to most people. Additionally, it should be evaluated based on the rights approach, wherein the option is checked if it respects the rights of the individuals (Farmer, 2018). Further analysis should be done based on the virtue, justice, and common good approach to align the decision to the proper sources of ethical standards.

Once the best option is chosen, the managers and employees should test it and act and reflect on its outcomes. This will be based upon its legality, fairness, and how it makes the individual feel (Teven & Gottlieb, 2018). However, the framework must be guided by the principles of justice, beneficence, autonomy, and non-maleficence (Teven & Gottlieb, 2018). These are essential in ensuring that a decision is well aligned to the organization’s overall objective, and the decision’s made are for the general public good.


Farmer, Y. (2018). Ethical decision making and reputation management in public relations. Journal of Media Ethics, 33(1), 2-13. Web.

Grigoropoulos, J. (2019). The role of ethics in 21st century organization. International Journal of Progressive Education, 15(2), 167-175. Web.

Metwally, D., Ruiz-Palomino, P., Metwally, M., & Gartzia, L. (2019). How ethical leadership shapes employees’ readiness to change: The mediating role of an organizational culture of effectiveness. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. Web.

Teven, C., & Gottlieb, L. (2018). The four-quadrant approach to ethical issues in burn care. AMA Journal of Ethics, 20(6), 595-601. Web.


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