Ethics in Professional Practices - Business Management - Assessment Answer

Solution Code : 1ACBF

Question : Business Management

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Business Management Assignment

Assignment Task

Task 1 – Preparation

  • Obtain the necessary resources as outlined in Section 1.4 of this SOW.

Task 2 – Evaluation of Information Sources

  • Evaluate the two reports reference [1] and reference [2].

Task 3 – Good Professional Practice

  • Referring to 3.4 for instructions and guidance, and using references [1] and [2], and guided by reference [3] and by your own understanding of what would be reasonably expected of competent and ethical professionals, analyse the launch decision.
  • Discuss the extent to which the “myth of perfect engineering practice” could be applied, if at all, to the decision analysis.
  • Discuss the extent to which the “retrospective fallacy” could be applied, if at all, to the decision analysis
  • Weighing up all the information provided in the two references [1] and [2] and guided by reference [3] and taking note of your discussion on both the myth of perfect engineering practice and retrospective fallacy, discuss whether the launch decision was ethical?

Task 4 – Prepare Draft of Memorandum

  • Prepare a draft of your advice to the Chief Engineer, using the memorandum template (COR 007 TPL).
  • Add paragraph headings in the template that match the assessment criteria as detailed in 4.2.1 (4064 students) or 4.2.2.3 (7164 students).
  • Check your own work for grammar, accuracy, coherence and compliance with this SOW.

Task 5 – Submit the Memorandum

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Solution:

IntroductionGeneral Motors (GM) issued a recall in 2014 of several vehicles that were manufactured from 2003 to 2007. This recall was initiated because of a faulty ignition switch that affected many safety features such as the airbags. Due to the attention this issue has drawn, it is now clear that the GM’s staff and leadership detected this problem a long time ago but did not take action to rectify it. As a matter of fact, the design release engineer who approved the faulty design acted in unprofessional and unethical manner because one of his responsibilities is to focus on the quality of the switches. It is now clear that the switch problem has contributed to several accidents and fatalities. The investigation report by Valukus (2014) indicates that the failure was mainly not solved because of the GM’s cost-cutting strategy. Any employee who tried to report the safety issues was silenced and hence, the employees opted to keep quiet as no extra funding could have been offered to fix a problem. This memorandum had been requested by the RAA Chief Engineer, who is interested in knowing the professional and ethical implications of the GM’s ignition switch problem. This memorandum will discuss the expectations of engineering processes, extent of influence of GM engineering culture on this issue, and the ethical considerations related to the faulty design.

Expectations of engineering processes

Engineers are expected to adhere to their code of ethics because they handle machines which carry people and dangerous weapons which when not well taken care of may lead to fatalities. Professional engineers are needed to conduct themselves with a lot of dignity, honesty, honour, good faith, equity, and integrity to deliver the needed duties as required. Failure or poor observation of the ethics means that the whole community is put at a risk of suffering from different problems and calamities like the one experienced in GM’s faulty switch issue.

The Valukus (2014) report indicates that GM’s staff failed to realize the safety implications of the decisions they made. There were a series of mistakes made by different staffs including the first design release engineer who approved the faulty design that was below specifications, and managers and committee of engineers who did not consider a stalling problem at high speed as a safety issue. They failed to consider the impact of the faulty switch on the most critical safety features of a vehicle. Unlike other professionals, it is unlikely for engineers to a direct interaction with clients who use their professional services. Even though there is this distance, it is important for engineers to clearly understand that their decisions have a direct impact on the well-being of the society as a whole. Only when engineers take personal responsibilities can be said that they have met the ethical obligation to “hold vital” the safety, health and welfare of the whole society. It is possible for this to happen if this responsibility features prominently in an organization’s culture.

Extent of influence of GM engineering culture

The report by Valukus (2014) indicates that there was a “culture of secrecy” within GM Company, and GM lacked autonomy as a business enterprise. GM employed cost-cutting strategy in the early 2000s, and the cost-cutting environment encouraged the fear of revealing costly safety concerns. Hence, this created unethical behaviours among the GM’s staffs. Since 2001, the GM staffs were well aware of the faulty switches through internal discussions; however, they decided to do nothing about it because it they understood the company’s strategy was to control cost as a result of huge global rivalry (Valukas, 2014). There were also many committees that investigated consumer complaints over many years but their reports were not sent to the GM leadership for implementation.

The repeated transfer of the same issue to various committees and other staffs indicates a corporate culture where people were not encouraged or expected to take personal responsibility for safety concerns. The employees who were interviewed during the investigative report indicated that there was nothing they could do about the issue and the responsibility of dealing with such issues did not belong to them. The lack of personal accountability within the organization contributed to a problem that led to a stern risk to safety of GM customers to be not established for more than 1o years.

Therefore, it is very clear that the “culture of secrecy” within GM restricted its employees from coming up with proper decisions. The 2014 recall exposed the company’s lack of honesty to consumers, lack of transparency, and a practice that was based on profits over safety. This culture also encouraged poor relationship between the company and its shareholders because they lacked assurances, access and disclosure.

Ethical considerations

Before the recall, the 2011 ethical statement of GM included the stated values of respect, responsibility, accountability, safety, and quality. The company wanted to portray itself as an organization of high ethical standards, but this analysis proves otherwise. GM had opportunities to disclose the faults since 2001, but they did not do so, and only waited for pressure from outside. Although the events that led to this recall emphasis on the significance of good communication among departments, an efficient problem-solving procedure, and proper documentation, the most critical lesson from an ethical viewpoint is that engineers should be personally responsible for the consequences of the decisions they make.

It is clear that GM had cost savings and profit in mind without considering the external damage that was caused by their approach. They had the ability to replace the faulty switch but according to their ‘weird reasoning’, it would have cost a lot of money. The effects on consumers and the public’s interest at large were ignored. This contributed to the loss of reputation for a company that has full support of the government. One thing to note about this issue is that the corporate culture of GM played a critical role in this failure. The GM culture required their employees to follow the company’s rules without raising issues of concern.

Conclusion

From this discussion, it is true that ethics play a crucial role in any organization. It helps to guide the way professional act and carry their responsibilities. Furthermore, it helps to inculcate responsibility, honesty, integrity, trust and hard work within and organization. Consequently, this leads to the prevention of risks and potential problems that may arise as a result of unethical behaviours. The failures at GM can be attributed to culture and accountability. If an employee does not have the moral force to do things correctly, and is not capable of recognizing when mistakes are being committed, the solution should be to change culture or change the workforce.

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