Recently, General Motors has issued a recall on 1.6 million cars including Chervolet, Pontiac, Saturn, and Opel Models. The recall was due to a flaw in the vehicle’s ignition switches which caused the engine to spontaneously shut off and to disable their safety systems. The problem was “linked to 31 crashes and 13 front-seat deaths.” GM executives are coming under fire for this because some safety activist are saying that they knew about the issues long before a recall was issued. Currently, GM is declining to comment on financial issues related to the recall, but they are claiming that they are going to be “proactive” and “transparent” in the recall investigation. They have released a chronological report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration detailing the process by which they found the issue with the cars. GM is sending letters to owners of recalled cars to explain what will happen next, and has said that they are “deeply sorry” for their response being less than adequate.
This is an issue which directly relates to corporate social responsibility. GM is attempting to take a similar approach to this situation as Ford did with the Nazi allegations. They are attempting to not hide any information and give the public the facts. Another interesting parallel between this and the Ford case is that GM is blaming the previous admiration, the one that went bankrupt. They are claiming to be “a new leadership team” that is going to “do things the right way.” This fact works in GM’s favor because it a way of taking responsibility, but it also puts forth the idea that the new executives are not the ones who caused this problem. This is an effective strategy by the GM administration and should help make this situation go away quietly. It is amazing that two events separated by a large time gap could elicit the same corporate social response.