The sociological imagination and legal ethics

Robert Eli Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For ten years, General Motors (GM) denied that an ignition switch that could easily be turned to ‘Off’ constituted a safety defect. Accidents, deaths and injuries resulted. Despite many, many suits against GM, the problem remained uncorrected. The explanations that have been proffered are interrogated in this article and others are suggested. It concludes that a bureaucratic legal department is partly to blame, and criticises how the legal department evaluated cases by their settlement value. It criticises GM’s culture of blaming drivers for accidents. It concludes that the main problem at GM was not bureaucracy, but poor organisation of team management. GM was not organised for accountability without hierarchy. The article suggests that lawyers can play a key role in improving corporate decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalLegal Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • Automobiles
  • Bureaucracy
  • Computerisation
  • Corporations
  • Legal departments
  • Management
  • Product liability
  • Regulation and governance
  • Team management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Law


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