THE CHALLENGER CASE STUDY
The Challenger Launch catastrophy shows how uncounscious behaviours toward decision making can lead to important consequences. The catastrophy isthe result of a disagreement on a key element of the shuttle program : the O-Rings.
In this context we can bring together March and Simon’s theories and the Challenger case. Three Factors drove thedecision making :
The role of the context and the environment:
First, the decision process was made in a hurry : it was the day before the launch, which unabled Roger Boisjoly (one of the mainactor who fought against the launch) to have enough credibility toward the NASA.
First he described what he figured out to be a danger for the launch, he had not the right datas to support hisrecommendation but only facts. For NASA, these facts could not stand for a proper demonstration which could delay the launch. We can see that during the teleconference, NASA was not thinking like Boisjoly ofthe consequences. They had to continue to launch the fleet because they could loose money and they were still in the context of the Russian Roulette System. The night before the launch was too late forthem to discover that they had to change the whole system and the risks were not considered as high as Thiokel had placed them.
The Fear of being a deviant: We can see that the more the discussionmoves forward, the more Roger Boisjoly pipes down as he realizes he has no concrete argument. He repeats that the color of the O ring is signicative and starts to become irritated as Larry Mulloy(NASA) displays his concrete arguments against Boisjoly’s recommendation.
The Quest for conformity : During Morton Thiokol’s Caucus, Kilminster points the fact that they don’t have the data to supporttheir recommendation but they know the Oring could get some blow by. Arnie Thompson made an attempt to show to the people who were on his side that launching was dangerous but he didn’t follow through...