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Volkswagen: A lesson in implicit versus explicit rules and regulations

Jeffrey Thinnes | February 22, 2016

As uncertainty swirls around what Volkswagen executives knew or did not know about the company’s emissions cheating, this much seems certain: To achieve accountability going forward, Volkswagen executives must commit to creating a corporate culture in which employees feel comfortable raising concerns and are protected from retaliation if they do so.

According to reports out of Germany, Volkswagen’s own internal investigation found that a main factor in the scheme to develop a software algorithm enabling cars to circumvent emissions controls was the company’s pervasive “achieve goals at all costs” culture. No one within the organization wanted to break the news to senior management that VW’s goal for “clean diesel” cars in the U.S. was unachievable if they were also to meet strict U.S. emissions standards. The result? One of the largest corporate environmental scandals in history.”

Volkswagen is not alone in ignoring the incredible risk created by a can-do-at-any-cost...

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