The Ford Pinto Case Analysis

1576 WordsMay 26, 20177 Pages
The Ford Pinto Case Milton Friedman believed a free-market system, in which goods and services are exchanged and controlled by individuals and privately-owned businesses without government authority, was the only way to achieve personal freedom. Adam Smith, a 18th century philosopher and economist, held the belief that in a free society, the role of government should be limited to the protection of the people, the administration of justice through the court system, and the maintenance of all public resources. Adam Smith developed the concept of the “invisible hand” theory, which says within a society that is free of government interference, individuals can pursue actions out of their own self-interest, and the collective result of this…show more content…
Ford executives were under a great deal of pressure to produce a smaller, more gas efficient automobile. Japanese and German automobile sales were rapidly increasing. These competitive forces drove Ford’s executive team to respond by rushing the design process of the Ford Pinto. By 1973, the Pinto was well into production when engineers discovered a flaw in the gas tank, which was located just under the rear bumper. They discovered that if the vehicle suffered a rear-end collision over 20 mph, the gas tank could break and spill gasoline into the passenger compartment, potentially resulting in a fire. The remedy for the flaw was a part that cost $11.00 per vehicle. Executives at Ford knew the company had followed all safety standards and regulations. At that time, automobile safety standards only needed gas tanks to withstand a collision under 20 mph. An internal cost-benefit analysis revealed the costs would be substantially higher to fix the design flaw that the costs associated with any potential damages due to collisions and loss of life. The public remained unaware until Mother Jones journalist, Mark Dowie broke the story in 1977. Fueled by the media, what followed was a frenzy of public outcry and court trials. Friedman’s free-market approach to business ethics and how it relates to the Ford Pinto case. Friedman, who had a gift for explaining complex concepts, believed the

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