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VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing

Posted March 13, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

The Volkswagen emissions scandal highlights a dilemma in the engineering workplace: should an employee follow orders even when the employee knows the order is unethical or even illegal? This question was faced by engineers at Volkswagen when their managers approved a plan to alter how the company’s diesel engines performed during tests to determine emission levels.


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#1

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing

03/13/2017 1:21 PM

Simple, voice your concern in a design meeting, get it minuted. If management insist you design something bonkers, do it, that's what you are paid for.
Saying "I told you so" does give some satisfaction further down the line. (As does retirement )
Del

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Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing

03/14/2017 4:16 PM

I think you "hit the nail on the head" as they say here in the U.S.A. While it does little to get your concern or thoughts "on the record" - and you may be perceived as a contrarian in the workplace - it does give you some satisfaction to voice your concerns. Then you do your work to the best of your ability even if the product is unethical and something you don't like on your resume, since you have to do what you are paid to do!

Better than saying "I told you so", you can seek future job satisfaction and a better moral situation by 'keeping your nose to the grindstone' while keeping your options open for a transition to a new company that won't compromise your ethics or scruples.

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Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing

03/13/2017 6:00 PM

They are all guilty, some of dishonest intent, some too timid to stand up for what's right, some just in the wrong place at the wrong time.....all guilty, that's how it works....

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Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing

03/14/2017 7:20 PM

But what if the orders are to find a way to meet what a highly questionable third party wants that in itself has shown it has as much or more highly questionable ethical and moral action and intent behind it than your own efforts to beat them at their own game?

If lying and stealing is wrong is lying to and stealing from liars and thieves to undo what they did and give it back to those they did it to wrong in itself?

Not in my books.

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Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing

03/14/2017 10:13 PM

Attempting to lower yourself below those that are low, is not a good real life strategy, maybe make a good movie, but not realistic....

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Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing

03/14/2017 10:20 PM

Seems to be beyond just realistic and rather a factual way of life to me.

My lifes working experience has shown that it's basic operating procedure for the majority of businesses, government entities along with most bosses and managers as well.

One party makes a questionable and highly biased rule intended to largely serve themself and the other works to find a way around it so that they can survive to play the same game again next week.

The ones who refuse to play the game are the odd ones out and extreme minority in my views.

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Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing

03/15/2017 12:26 AM

Well you're talking about political one-upmanship, not Robin Hood....

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