In recent years, General Motors has had a problem with the ignition system in some of its sedan models. At least 13 deaths are directly attributable to the problem, and perhaps more. By 2014, the problem was widely known, and among the questions the public asked was how long GM had been aware of the defect and failed to solve the problem or issue a recall. Boiled down to its
essence, one major question is this: If GM knew its cars had a deadly defect for several years, why was nothing done about the problem?
This project asks you to analyze the behaviors of GM and its key employees through ethical lenses. As it relates to business ethics, it is expected that you will make assessments about GM’s conduct by viewing the company’s behavior from both utilitarian and Kantian perspectives. I am providing you
with four articles to get you started on your analysis, but I presume you will want to do additional research. At a minimum, you will need to cite and make use of all four provided articles in your analysis.
Here are specific questions to address in your paper:
1. Was GM’s conduct ethical if utilitarian analysis is applied?
2.Was GM’s conduct ethical if approached from a Kantian vantage point?
3.How does corporate culture shape an organization’s overall ethical stance? In other words, if GM acted unethically, what cultural phenomena within the organization explain this lapse?
4.If you had been an engineer at GM, would you have acted differently
than what is described in the readings? If so, how?
What about if you were an in-house attorney?
5.How does Patricia Werhane’s essay on “moral imagination” apply to GM’s behavior?
6.How would you view GM’s behavior from a Christian perspective? Is a Christian perspective consistent with utilitarian, or Kantian analysis? Or
both? Or neither?
7.What changes should GM make, if any, to prevent this sort of problem in the future?
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