Steering a Crisis: the case of Volkswagen

How does one of the most respected and largest carmakers handle the major diesel scandal? Explore how Volkswagen steers an ‘existence-threatening crisis’ and learn about crisis management from strategic, organizational and operational perspectives in this new case published by the RSM Case Development Centre.

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In September 2015, what has become the world’s largest automotive scandal began to unfold as US regulators charged Volkswagen (VW) with using software in some of its diesel engines that could fool emissions tests into thinking the affected vehicles were within permissible US pollution limits. What followed has been two years of investigations, admissions, lawsuits, penalties and disclosures that have affected not only VW but the entire automotive industry. VW has been in crisis management mode ever since, seeing a scandal that it initially blamed on a few rogue engineers reach into the top echelons of its corporate structure and resulting in billions of dollars of fines.

This case study in crisis management explores how one of the world’s most respected and largest automakers handled the events that even a top executive called an “existence-threatening crisis”. The case, which includes events up until March 2017, underscores what a crisis means at the corporate level. It provides an opportunity to increase your understanding of the dynamics of a crisis: the challenges an organization faces when it is hit by one and how it should manage its actions, reactions and stakeholders.

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The Case Development Centre at RSM supports case-based management education by turning exceptional business and management experiences into powerful learning tools. Examples of our case studies, prepared by practitioners and academics, are listed in the case catalogue.

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