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WHEN MAKING MONEY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SAVING LIVES: REVISITING THE FORD PINTO CASE

Stuart C. Strother

Abstract

Despite a long tradition of ethics training in business colleges, managers commonly make unethical business decisions. This paper reports a five year study of ethical decision making of business students (n = 192). In an undergraduate microeconomics course, students were presented with financial data from the infamous Ford Pinto case where defective engineering, coupled with unethical management behavior, resulted in a number of fiery fatalities. Facing the decision to repair the cars or pay the estimated costs of lost wrongful death lawsuits, 56.8% of students chose to pay for the deaths. This paper describes the classroom experiment and uses logistic regression to compare the characteristics of the group choosing the correct ethical decision (repair the cars), with the group choosing the incorrect ethical decision (pay for the deaths).


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APPENDIX A: THE ASSIGNMENT RUBRIC


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18063/vd.v0i0.352
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