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Reference no. 318-0046-1
Vincent Giolito (Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management); Paul Verdin (Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management); Moustafa Hamwi (Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management); Yassin Oualhadj (Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management)
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20 pages
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When it emerged that Volkswagen equipped its diesel cars in the US with a device for cheating pollution tests in 2015, it cost the carmaker tens of billion dollars and left it with critical strategic issues. This case for Masters, MBA and executive education classes shows that far from being a one-off crisis, the 'Dieselgate' unfolded over a decade. It invites to consider how a combination of extreme strategic aggressiveness and a culture of iron discipline led to widespread wrongdoing. More importantly, the case shows how top executives might have corrected the issues in time. The case is analysed with a novel theoretical lens: organizational, strategic errors and strategic error management. Organizational errors refer to people in the firm deviating from appropriate behavior as the result of conflicting priorities; strategic errors are organizational errors that cause adverse outcomes of strategic magnitude; strategic error management refer to how executives can intercept and rectify strategic errors. On top of introducing those concepts, the 'Volkswagen Uber Alles' case elaborates on the construct of learning culture, by which executives may more effectively implement strategy and manage errors as they occur.


Failure; Error management; Strategy execution
Group revenue 217 billion euros
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