Cheating emission test was an open secret at Volkswagen because the workers were unable to achieve the target set by the company. Volkswagen management set unrealistic target due to the needs of the regulation, and they keep pressure their workers to do whatever they have to achieve it.
Although the issue being brought to one of the higher management, they are too busy focusing on their day-to-day business activities. As the results around 38,000, vehicles in Europe were running without a proper emissions rating. So, who to blame? Jeremy Clarkson once said the things will not happen if the regulation is not too strict and set more realistic target. I agree with him.