GM Internal Investigation Report, NYT Recommended read, at least Summary and Culture parts. In 2002, faulty ignition switch was installed in some GM cars. Switch failed to keep car powered on in circumstances that drivers could encounter. The failure of the switch would prevent the air bags from deploying. Problems with the switch were reported to GM, however GM engineers dealing with the switch problem did not connect the dots as they did not understand that the switch failure would cause air bags non deployment in a crash. Consequently switch problem was treated as a convenience problem and efforts to fix it were impacted with cost considerations, which would have been immaterial in case of safety issues. Few contributing factors to GM failing to address this issue in a timely manner: Resistance to raising issues GM culture (GM salute - avoiding responsibility, and GM nod - everyone nods in agreement to a proposed plan of action but then everyone leaves the room with no follow up) did not help to resolve the switch problem. Failure to share or gather knowledge / information silos GM lawyers hid fatal flow, from critics and one another GM was under great pressure to cut costs. That meant cutting heads and choosing the cheapest suppliers. And many others... Report concludes that there were multiple, interrelated factors that led to GM's decade long failure to recognize the safety defect in Cobalt and initiate a recall. What I found in the report is not much different to what I see every day at work. After experiencing the culture of several multinationals, I believe that what happened at GM is likely to be happening in other large organizations. The difference is in the product, not all product defects cause deaths as is the case with cars. The different tone can be set only at the top level and when that happens, the change flows down through the ranks. One NYT commenter echoes my thoughts, although I struggle with the jailing bit. There may be better ways to enforce accountability: "Corporations will continue to shrug until CEOs and high level execs are jailed. It's that simple. Until then, they will simply apply a cost-benefit analysis to any flaw, and ineluctably conclude that the cost of repair is greater than the benefit of profit. CEOs are promoted and hired for short-term profits, not long term vision; this is one of the fatal flaws of American capitalism as it stands now. Execs are very used to kicking the can down the road--they walk through the revolving glass doors so rapidly you can't see the doors spin, and are very rarely, if ever, penalized for poor job performance. At the very worst, they are let go with tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. So for them, the risk of fines & negative publicity down the road in a company they are likely not to even head, is not great enough to interfere with the get rich quick schemes of the present. Until we jail our CEOs for their crimes at the rate we jail regular folks for manslaughter or marijuana, we will continue to see these deaths."