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The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA

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The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986, millions of Americans became bound together in a single, historic moment. Many still vividly remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the tragedy. In The Challenger Launch Decision, Diane Vaughan recreates the steps leading up to that fateful decision, contradicting conventional interpretations to prove that what occurred at NASA was not skulduggery or misconduct but a disastrous mistake.

Journalists and investigators have historically cited production problems and managerial wrong-doing as the reasons behind the disaster. The Presidential Commission uncovered a flawed decision-making process at the space agency as well, citing a well-documented history of problems with the O-ring and a dramatic last-minute protest by engineers over the Solid Rocket Boosters as evidence of managerial neglect.

Why did NASA managers, who not only had all the information prior to the launch but also were warned against it, decide to proceed? In retelling how the decision unfolded through the eyes of the managers and the engineers, Vaughan uncovers an incremental descent into poor judgment, supported by a culture of high-risk technology. She reveals how and why NASA insiders, when repeatedly faced with evidence that something was wrong, normalized the deviance so that it became acceptable to them.

No safety rules were broken. No single individual was at fault. Instead, the cause of the disaster is a story not of evil but of the banality of organizational life. This powerful work explains why the Challenger tragedy must be reexamined and offers an unexpected warning about the hidden hazards of living in this technological age.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 533-550) and index.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables

Preface

1: The Eve of the Launch

2: Learning Culture, Revising History

3: Risk, Work Group Culture, and the Normalization of Deviance

4: The Normalization of Deviance, 1981-1984

5: The Normalization of Deviance, 1985

6: The Culture of Production

7: Structural Secrecy

8: The Eve of the Launch Revisited

9: Conformity and Tragedy

10: Lessons Learned

Appendix A. Cost/Safety Trade-Offs? Scrapping the Escape Rockets and the SRB Contract Award Decision

Appendix B. Supporting Charts and Documents

Appendix C. On Theory Elaboration, Organizations, and Historical Ethnography

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226851754
Author:
Vaughan, Diane
Author:
Vaughn, Diane
Author:
Vaughn, Diane
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Location:
Chicago :
Subject:
Management
Subject:
History
Subject:
Organizational Behavior
Subject:
United States - 20th Century (1945 to present)
Subject:
Aeronautics & Astronautics
Subject:
Safety
Subject:
Decision-making
Subject:
Aerospace industries
Subject:
Decision making -- Case studies.
Subject:
United States - 20th Century (1945 to 2000)
Subject:
TEC056000
Subject:
United States - Management
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1
Series Volume:
no. 3
Publication Date:
19960131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
54 line drawings, 2 tables
Pages:
592
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Engineering » Engineering » History
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » Space Exploration
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Zoology » Mammals

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