What Can Companies Learn from Volkswagen Business Unethical Behaviour?

Professor Alain Ndedi

International Council for Family Business; ISTG-AC; YENEPAD; Saint Monica University; University of Johannesburg; University of Pretoria; Charisma University

Yota Kuete

Saint Monica University

Professor Kelly Kingsly

Independent; Copperstone University ; Charisma university

Michael Kouwos


Date Written: October 23, 2015


Business ethics is seen as a form of applied ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment, and apply to all aspects of business conduct of individuals and or organizations. (Ndedi, 2012) During the past decades, the economic world has experienced the collapse of many well established corporations like WorldCom, Enron, Brent Spar, and the difficulties encountered by Nike and GAP with the sourcing of their products from developing countries. In the same line, and more recently, the bankruptcy of the Lehmans Brothers and other financial institutions have sparked a huge anxiety from the public regarding the business environment. (Ndedi, 2011) Now, it is the issue with Volkswagen’s installation of a software defeat device in 11 million sold worldwide.

The current paper highlights the failures of a compliance mindset, and shows that ethics are typically considered in terms of staying within certain externally enforced rules and regulations. The paper recommends that the current Volkswagen situation requires an overhaul of the regulatory structure, business ethics, corporate culture, and also engineering education within Volkswagen and other companies involved in such unethical behaviours. To this, the paper advised that laws and their enforcement need to be tightened so that people have something to fear. With regard to capacity building, business and corporate ethics programmes are needed to capacitate workers. These programmes could then more clearly outline consequences of ethics violations, criminal charges and prison sentences. Finally, the paper shows that unethical behaviours even when they are hidden will be punished sooner or later.

Keywords: Ethics, Compliance, Ndedi Alain

Suggested Citation: Ndedi, Alain Aime and Kuete, Yota and Kingsly, Professor kelly and Kouwos, Michael, What Can Companies Learn from Volkswagen Business Unethical Behaviour? (October 23, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2678887

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