Volkswagen's example offers up a useful lesson in managing a troublesome hierarchy.
Volkswagen and others may have been hamstrung by a low opinion of indifferent car buyers.
If we even can't secure reliable data on car emissions then environmental regulators throughout the world are in trouble.
An obsession with metrics has led to a business culture in many industries that is more concerned with meeting targets than the wider good the measure was intended to represent.
It used to be outside actors like NGOs and governments that forced companies to be environmentally friendly. But some are building their brand on their CSR.
For business ethics to be effective they must be pushed onto corporations against their will. Business ethics is democratic, not corporate.
Australia and New Zealand have unique legislative regimes protecting consumers, which differ from almost every other affected country.
Why do companies devote so much energy to ingenuity that causes harm?
Computers control much of an engine's performance these days. And it's surprisingly easy to tweak the software to bypass emissions controls, as done by Volkswagen.
Many professionals risk the wrath of their governing body if they act against any code of ethics. But not so the IT industry. Is it time for that to change?
Volkswagen's command and control approach has not helped its global response to the emissions scandal, with Australian customers left waiting for more than two weeks.
The VW emissions scandal is an opportunity to forge ahead with fuel cell technology for cars.
The VW emissions scandal gives governments every right to increase their supervisory role beyond regulation and to involve themselves to a much larger degree in economic activity.
Governments are just as much to blame when it comes to letting car manufacturers get away with dodging regulation requirements, as the companies themselves.
Australia is literally years behind European and US vehicle emissions standards, allowing car-makers to sell more polluting cars.
It's likely that many people knew Volkswagen was cheating on emissions tests, including the engineers who built the 'defeat device'. But why did no-one at the car maker blow the whistle?
Why would anyone accept that corporations could possibly be responsible and ethical in the first place?
Volkswagen's emissions cheat didn't just anger owners and regulators; the cost to human health from violating air quality rules exceeds US$100 million.
Volkswagen's emissions deception and a case of alleged price-gouging around pharmaceuticals are part of a troubling trend of businesspeople who operate with little regard for ethics.
The impact of Volkswagen's deceit will spread far beyond its German headquarters. Customers and suppliers will face losses just as steep or steeper.