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VW ‘an accident waiting to happen’

By Laurie Bennett

September 26, 2015 at 7:53am

Experts on corporate governance tell the New York Times they’re not surprised by the troubles at Volkswagen.

Company CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned this week after revelations that more than 11 million cars had been equipped with software designed to falsify emissions tests.

Oversight of the German company has been split between family stockholders, government and labor interests. As the interactive Muckety map above shows, stakeholders include Qatar and Lower Saxony, a German state.

Until earlier this year, Ferdinand Piech, grandson of Porsche founder Ferdinand Porsche, was chairman. He stepped down after a failed attempt to unseat Winterkorn. His wife and former nanny, Ursula Piech, left the board at the same time.

The Guardian notes that VW has a long history of boardroom battles.

The company got its start when Adolf Hitler directed Ferdinand Porsche to build a “people’s car.”

Today, its supervisory board has 20 members, including two representatives from Qatari, two from Lower Saxony, five members of the Porsche and Piƫch families, and 10 union officials.

“The governance of Volkswagen was a breeding ground for scandal,” Charles M. Elson, professor of finance and director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, told the Times. “It was an accident waiting to happen.”

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The relationship map to the left is interactive.
• Solid lines are current relations. Dotted lines are former relations.
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• Move an item in the map by clicking and dragging.
• You can also delete items, separate boxes and save maps. Right-click on the map or select Map Tools for these options.
• Find out more about an item in the map by right-clicking on the item and choosing Information about...
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• This interactive map requires Flash player.


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