Your assignment this week is to write on the ethics of conforming to the “scripts” prescribed by your professional environments. Was Gioia wrong to follow the corporate script? Does he bear responsibility for “just following orders”? Next week we’ll talk about whistle-blowing and the ethics of breaking scripts. But this week, let’s focus on the ethics of following scripts. In preparing your post, please consider the following sources:

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Pinto Fires and Personal Ethics: A Script Analysis of Missed Opportunities Author(s): Dennis A. Gioia Source: Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 11, No. 5/6, Behavioral Aspects of Business Ethics (May, 1992), pp. 379-389 Published by: Springer Stable URL: . Accessed: 20/10/2014 22:58 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact . Springer is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of Business Ethics. This content downloaded from on Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:58:31 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Pinto Fires and Personal Ethics: A Script Analysis of Missed ABSTRACT. This article details the personal involvement of in the the author The first paper early presents of stages an the infamous insider account Pinto of case. fire the context of analysis the of explanation seen commonly behavior. that were cluded of recall early personal factors cognition of issues and that is that action at now corporate sch mas script the time terms is because pre the scripts did not include ethical dimensions. In the summer tant of one of those impor of which the t significance I left academe in retrospect. only to in Science and an MBA Engineering in life, transitions obvious becomes a BS with 1972 Imade and doing in the coming the title level, however, deeper came to connote the many critical be thinking some On years. about paradoxically that Iwould things not be thinking about and acting upon. in unethical in ethical script as an cognitive offered then a decision study thesis analytical guiding consideration is experience that led to as a definitive main The A vehicles. defective was “Problem My initial job title Analyst” a catchall label that I superficially described what difference. would and decision environment within which he failed to initiate an DennisA. Gioia Opportunities summer of 1972 Iwas very full of By that myself. some I had met my life’s goals to that point with success. I had Iwanted, notable virtually everything a value system that had led including strongly-held me to and prac question many of the perspectives in the world tices I observed the around me. Not least of Vietnam these was war, a a distaste in various distaste profound that had found me for the partici its conduct demonstrations against as a part of a collective voice on the and ethical failure of a democratic govern that would attempt to justify it. I also found pating and speaking of big business. I joined Ford Motor at World in Dearborn Company Headquarters a to work dream long-standing fulfilling Michigan, auto I felt confident in the heart of the that industry. to make a at the time Iwas in the right right place moral Dennis were they to change. something I cultivated my social awareness; I held Accordingly, to my principles high; I espoused my intention help a troubled world; and Iwore my hair long. By any measure Iwas a “Child of the ’60s.” prototypical a few of my friends in it struck Therefore, quite as rather strange that Iwas in the the MBA program enter the world A. Gioia isAssociate Behavior oj Organizational and The Department oj Management Organization, Smeal State Administration, ojBusiness College Pennsylvania Gioia’s research and University. primary Projessor writing jocus nature and uses ojthe oj complex cognitive processes by organiza tion members and the ways that these processes sensemak affect His and communication, ing, influence organizational change. most recent research interests have to do with the less rational, in more Projessor the and aspects oj organizational political arenas where in tend people organizations to have them scholars’ heartfelt attempts Prior to this tower career, he worked behave more rationally. ivory in the real world as an at aide engineering for Boeing Aerospace intuitive, emotional, those life fascinating to subvert management Kennedy Space Center and as vehicle recall coordinator for Ford Motor Company inDearborn, Michigan. ment inMBA classes the conduct of myself railing against actions struck me as of the era, whose businesses to indifferent to simply ranging from inconsiderate stance of business To me the typical unethical. seemed to be one of disdain for, rather than respon the society toward, Iwanted members. prominent sibility of which at all. are so in program (“If you disappointed business, why study business?”). Subsequently, they were I practically dumbstruck when accepted the job one of the offer from Ford, apparently great pur I I countered of the actions reviled. that veyors very it was an ideal strategy, arguing Journal ofBusiness Ethics 11: 379-389, 1992. 1992Kluwer Academic Publishers.Printed in theNetherlands. This content downloaded from on Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:58:31 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions that Iwould have a 380 Dennis in busi social greater chance of influencing change ness if I worked behind the scenes on the inside, rather than as a strident voice on the outside. Itwas clear to me staid companies aimed certainly Into to needed somebody prod these into action. I socially responsible to do my part. Besides, I liked cars. that the fray: the personal setting A. Gioia customer stage Predictably myself enough, at Ford, in a “tournament” type of participating socialization in a (Van Maanen, 1978), engaged for recognition with other MBA’s who competition had I the company. And recently joined quickly became caught up in the game. The company itself was environment the of business, especially dynamic; was the auto the job was industry, intriguing; and the pay was great. The challenging psychic in a rewards of and major working succeeding I seductive. corporation proved unexpectedly really became involved in the job. forces and (international competition) government (vehicle safety and emissions) regulation were the auto industry in disruptive ways affecting to the wider that only later would be common an business and social arena. They also produced a and that felt belea buffeted, company industry guered, and threatened by the changes. The threats were external, of course, and led to a strong mostly where we (Ford members) feeling of we-vs-them, to defend needed ourselves against them (all the that we parties and voices demanding change at this time, an Even ways). intriguing question outside our for me was whether Iwas a “we” or a “them.” It was to me that my perspective was apparent becoming cut my hair. I had since changing. long summer of 1973 I was into the By the pitched I became thick of the battle. Ford’s Field Recall Coordinator not in the hierarchy, high its level. for beyond tional coordination currently a that was particularly position but one that wielded influence I was of in all of and also of the opera charge the recall campaigns in of charge tracking underway to information incoming identify developing prob to make Iwas in a position lems. Therefore, initial about possible future recalls. The recommendations most critical campaigns” These from ranged as brake failure such straight-forward to more and wheels exotic and off vehicles, falling as humorous failure modes such faintly detaching axles that announced their presence by spinning into the starded driver’s door forward and slamming recall Market or death. occurrences and speed control units that locked on, and refused as the care accelerated to the wildly while disengage, to it driver shut off. tried spooked futilely Safety on the fast track I found injury labeled “safety type of recalls were those that dealt with the possibility of more and The however, campaigns, sobering possibility also encompassed of on-board gasoline the fires explosions…. Pinto case: the corporate setting stage the Pinto, a small car that to compete with the then current cars and the ominous from European challenge presence on the horizon of Japanese manufacturers. to The Pinto was brought from inception produc In 1970 Ford was intended introduced 25 months of approximately to the a 43 of (compared industry average months), time frame that the necessity for suggested doing In addition to the time pressure, things expediently. tion in the record time the engineering to adhere quired for and development to the production car: it was not the diminutive teams were re “limits of 2 000” to exceed either or 2 000 in $2 000 in cost pounds Any weight. decisions that threatened these targets or the timing were of the car’s introduction Under discouraged. normal conditions design, styling, product planning, were to etc., prior completed engineering, produc tion Because time of the foreshortened tooling. some of these frame, however, usually sequential processes were executed in parallel. As a consequence, was already well under tooling the basic routine way (thus “freezing” design) when crash testing revealed that the Pinto’s fuel tank often struck from the rear at a ruptured when relatively in crash low speed (31 mph tests). Reports (revealed were much later) showed that the fuel tank failures the result of some The tank was rather design features. the rear bumper industry practice for marginal between positioned and the rear axle ( a standard the time). During impact, however, from the rear of the axle protruding several studs would housing puncture holes in the tank; the fuel filler neck also was to rip away. Spilled gasoline then could be likely This content downloaded from on Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:58:31 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Pinto Fires and Personal Ethics 11 in fact crash-tested ignited by sparks. Ford had cars cata 8 of these suffered potentially vehicles; cars 3 tank The that ruptures. strophic gas only intact had each been modified survived to protect the tank. These crash tests, however, were the guidelines of Federal Motor law. There problem, tank and were several possibilities the option of including for fixing the the redesigning have produced its location, which would tank integrity in a high-speed crash. That solution, was not time and expen however, only consuming was seen as but also trunk which sive, space, usurped a critical sales factor. One of the pro competitive to the tank, however, would have cost only $11 to install, but given the tight 2 000,” restrictions of the of “limits and margins even this to make there was reluctance relatively There change. the change, approving belief spread industry were reasons other for not as well, a wide including cars were that all small unsafe solely inherently more Another weight. because of their reason size and was a prominent corporate belief that “safety doesn’t sell.” This obser to Lee Iacocca and stemmed vation was attributed to make Ford’s earlier attempt safety an that failed rather dismally theme, attempt from a sales in the marketplace. most reason for controversial Perhaps the reject to the gas tank, however, ing the production change was Ford’s use of cost-benefit to analysis justify the decision. The National Traffic Safety Asso Highway ciation (NHTSA, a federal agency) had approved the use of cost-benefit as an means appropriate analysis for automotive safety design standards. establishing in controversial such calculations aspect making was the that they required of some assignment a human life. In 1970, that value specific value for was deemed to be $200 000 as a “cost approximately to for each Ford used NHTSA’s society” fatality. The ing the costs and benefits of estimating An the tank production internal design. later revealed in court, indicates the follow in tabulations 1977): and trucks with the gas tank aft of the axle $49530000 Benefits: as from the (Estimated savings preventing (180 projected deaths x $200 000/ death) + (180 projected burn injuries X $67 cars X $700/car)) 000/injury) + (2 100 burned The cost-benefit decision was then construed as No fix would be under production straightforward: of and ethical implications taken. The philosophical a financial for human life or dis value assigning seem to have been a do not major figurement in this decision. consideration reaching Pintos and personal experience modifications minor altering memo, cars X $11/vehicle)) (12 500 000 vehicles under Vehicle Safety in 1968 and had been proposed auto opposed by the industry. FMVSS strenuously at the 301 was not actually adopted until 1976; thus, time of the tests, Ford was not in violation of the figures designed 301 which Standard duction Costs: $137000000 as costs of a production fix to all similarly the (Estimated in some way conducted 381 concerning potential fires (Dowie, When 1973 I took over I inherited recall in the Recall Coordinator’s job the oversight of about 100 active more than half of which were campaigns, These safety-related. in size from minimal ranged were to break on that likely (replacing to maximal 12 heavy trucks) (repairing the power on millions of cars). In addition, there steering pump a were that were number of safety problems quite front wheels under consideration as candidates for addition to the list. (Actually, “problem” was a word whose use was forbidden at the by the legal office public it time, even in service bulletins, because suggested was of admission “Condition” corporate culpability. to these In the sanctioned addition catchword.) recall candidates, there were many files potential field of failure reports component containing alleged recall that had led to

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