Ethics, Leadership, Volkswagen – case study

Periodically, The Training Doctor releases case studies used in our Teaching Thinking Curriculum.

Since we want everyone to improve their thinking skills – not just those who are enabled to do so through their employer-sponsored training – we offer these case studies for use in your personal development, corporate or higher ed classrooms.

In the Volkswagen case study, you’ll be able to discuss and dissect concepts around:

  • Ethics
  • Leadership
  • Decision making
  • Stakeholders

In September of 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused the automaker of installing engine control unit (ECU) software in its diesel cars (beginning in 2008). The software worked as a “defeat device,” allowing VW models to avoid violating the Clean Air Act by sensing when the cars were being subject to emissions testing, enabling emissions controls, and thereby enabling VW brand cars to pass inspection. However, during normal driving conditions, emission control software was shut off in order to attain greater fuel economy and additional power, resulting in as much as 40 times more pollution than allowed by law. Eventually, VW admitted that the sensing device was installed in approximately 11 million vehicles in both the US and Canada.

Learn more here and develop your thinking skills by using the discussion questions posed at the end of the case study.

Update:  March 2019.  VW has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with securities fraud, do the tune of $13 billion.