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Whistleblowing: The Ford Company Case

The corporate social responsibility in organizations brings about the aspect of ethics especially when it concerns the safety standards of the products being released to the customers for consumption. The case of Pinto in Ford Company gives a situation where the company failed to observe its moral obligation of ensuring that the products being released to the customers are safe.

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According to George (2006: p 303), Man is a social being and has a moral obligation to prevent harm on others where the case is preventable. For example, the association of engineers in America requires members to air claims against practices that threaten safety, health and welfare of the public (Newton and Ford, 2008: p 192).

In its production of Pinto, Ford Company management was aware of the safety dangers exposed to the consumers and the public in general. After carrying out the safety tests from production and ascertaining that the model failed to meet the standards and having identified a solution to the problem, the company went ahead to release the defective model for sale after carrying a cost benefit analysis. The company only took the action as purely a business strategy to maximize on the sales in the expense of the safety of the consumers.

In the Pinto case, Harley Copp blew the whistle after his criticism of the idea from the start failed to be attended to. To prevent being fired, condemned or mistreated for his whistle blowing action, Copp decided to leave the company and then made public the unethical behavior in the company. Morally, it was the duty of the company to ensure that safety of the public is observed in the product. It can be regarded that the whistleblowing action of Copp was morally justifiable though it was not morally mandatory. Moral justification of his whistleblowing is due to the fact that the company counted on the savings it would make by not correcting the defects in comparison with the cost of compensating the lives or injuries caused when cases are reported. Morally, lives cannot be compared with the compensation that is due when accidents do occur; however, subjectively, the case did not warrant whistle blowing.

Copp was whistleblowing in the interests of the public. However, the public even after realizing that the safety standards of Pinto were questionable went forward to purchase the model in the auction, discounting the danger by considering the affordability of the model meaning that the public did not consider the issue as a serious concern. George (2006: p 308) holds the views that the society has more ways to deal with issue that do not pose serious threat than resulting to whistleblowing. He could have made an assessment of the situation before whistle blowing.

Further my view that whistle blowing for this case was not morally mandatory is the fact that the company later recalled the Pinto models already sold in order to fix the safety baffle that would guarantee the safety of the consumers. The low safety standards may have been due to the accelerated production schedule. In addition, the rear-end impact safety precaution was not a requirement by the Highway Traffic Safety Administration by the time Pinto was produced and therefore whistleblowing was completely not a cause of action by Copp.

Although the act of whistleblowing was not morally mandatory in this case, the company would have carried out its moral responsibility by making it known to the public the risks that are involved in the newer models of Pinto in order to alert them before purchasing the product. It is evident that the company would have been forced to recall the released vehicles to be fitted with the safety baffle owing to the high cost of compensation that was incurred which exceeded the saving by not putting the safety baffle.

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References

George, R.T. D. (2006). Business Ethics: whistle blowing. Sixth Edition. NJ: Prentice Hall.

Newton, H. L. and Ford, M. M. (2008). Taking Sides: Cashing in Views in Business Ethics and Society. Tenth Edition. NY: McGraw Hill.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 21). Whistleblowing: The Ford Company Case. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/whistleblowing-the-ford-company-case/

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