Re: Is it the individual or the culture in which they operate?
The Kia and Hyundai cheats are also due to not prescribing and verifying the test conditions under which these measures were taken. Such tests should be conducted by a third party like UL or TÜV.
As far as individual or culture, it is the culture. I am convinced that there were plenty of minions who spoke up and claimed it was wrong, but had the choice of going along with it or losing their job, if not even get sued for disclosing business secrets.
I am sure VW has a rough quarter now, but in the end it will nothing more than a larger blip on the balance sheet. Stock is already rebounding and financially VW has no worries, half of the company is owned by the German state Lower Saxony, so it would be taxpayers in the end who have to cover expenses.
The culture that favors cost cuttings and sales over everything, especially quality, will eventually generate such major fails. For the longest time I suggest that Ethics must be a mandatory course for any science, business, and engineering graduate. Maybe that helps to prevent things like this.