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Ford Pinto Case Essay

2125 words - 9 pages

Ethical Perspectives Paper
Part I: Please provide answers to the following:
1. Identify the relevant facts of the Ford Pinto case:
In 1970 Ford introduced the Pinto, a small car that was intended to compete with the then current challenge from European cars and the ominous presence on the horizon of Japanese manufacturers. The Pinto was brought from inception to production in the record time of approximately 25 months, where a normal car usually takes 43 months. This showed an expedited time frame for the Pinto. On top of time pressure the team was also required to follow a limit of 2000, that meaning it could not exceed $2000 in cost and it could not weight more than 2000lbs. When it ...view middle of the document...

In 1978 a jury awarded a Pinto burn victim 6.6 million in punitive damages. Also in 1978 NHTSA issued a formal determination that the Pinto was defective and Ford had to recall on the Pinto cars. Then on August 10, 1978, three teenage girls were killed by a fire in their Pinto, and Ford was charged with homicide. It was the first time that a corporation was tried for alleged criminal behavior. The jury ultimately found in favor of Ford, and Ford ceased production of the Pinto all together.
2. Identify the ethical issues-discuss the points of conflict:
The ethical issue that arises in this case is that Ford believed that the cost of a production fix outweighed the cost of human lives projected to be injured by their product. By conducting a cost –benefit analysis, which involved putting a dollar amount on a redesign, potential lawsuits, and even lives, Ford determined that it would be cheaper to pay off lawsuits than to make the repairs to make the Pinto safe. By Ford using this approach, it allowed for the dollar savings amount to impair how they viewed and made their decision. By following this approach the moral dimension was not part of the equation. Another ethical issue that arises is the choice to not recall the Pinto, when cases of harm did arise in the general public. By writing off small cases and following their corporate schema, they allowed the Pinto case to grow into a much more catastrophic problem, when they had the choice to resolve the issue from the start.

3. List the Stakeholders, and identify the stakeholder(s) that holds the most power and specify the source, the stakeholders that has the most legitimacy, and the stakeholder with the most urgency:

Stakeholders: | Description: | Source of Power: |
Shareholders of Ford | Shareholders are often concerned about the company’s reputation here and their return on investment. | Economic and Voting Power |
Government Agencies | They are meant to protect the public and regulate industry and make sure they are abiding by specifics. | Legal (they can sue companies) and Political (they can influence legislation) Power. |
Consumers | They are the people that own and drive Pinto’s. They believe that the Pinto is a well manufactured vehicle. | Economic and Political Power |
General Public | They are the other people on the road who do not own Pinto’s, but are put at risks way with Pinto’s being driven. | Economic and Political Power |
Media | They get the truth out to the public | Political Power |

Stakeholder with the most power:
The stakeholder with the most power would have to be the government agencies because they have the ability to sue Ford, for their malpractice of not making safe vehicles for the general public. By doing so Ford can lose a significant amount of money, they could lose substantial amount of business, and it could tarnish their brand image.
Stakeholder with the most legitimacy:
The stakeholder with the most legitimacy would be...

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