Volkswagen’s Clean Diesel Dilemma (pdf abstract)
Purchase the full report on GlobaLens (Case study #1-430-484) – published 03/2016, 24 pages

Developed by: Chris Monti (Erb ’18), Vitor Lira, Jefferson Sanchez and Namit Jhanwar. This case was written under the supervision of Andrew Hoffman, Erb Faculty Member.

Description: Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Group, has just been notified that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resource Board will begin investigating claims that some of the company’s diesel engine vehicles have violated emissions standards. It seems that workers installed defeat devices on the vehicles, allowing them to pass emissions tests and meet the tough standards of the U.S. market. The questions students will need to answer are: Who is responsible? And Does Volkswagen take sustainability seriously or has it just been green-washing all along?

Teaching Note: Available to Registered Educators. Please login to view it.

Teaching Points: After reading and discussing this case, students should be able to:

  • Illustrate how corporate culture affects a company’s values with respect to the environment.
  • Hypothesize how companies can balance market pressures, business objectives, and environmental responsibility.
  • Explain how regulatory entities affect a company functioning in multiple markets.
  • Justify the responsibilities, if any, a company has with regard to the environment and public health.
  • Formulate a decision-making process for future crisis.