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The Politics of The Challenger Disaster

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Information about The Politics of The Challenger Disaster
Education

Published on July 16, 2009

Author: aSGuest22287

Source: authorstream.com

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Slide 1: The Space Shuttle Challenger Accident Disaster Please view the tragic events of January 28,1986 to frame the discussion regarding the Challenger. http://www.encyclomedia.com/video-challenger_disaster.html Slide 2: The Danger of Politics Andrea Farina Carolyn Headley Chris Hunt Maureen Kehoe Carolyn Krotowski Lori Kuhns EAST STROUDSBURG UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION & LEADERSHIP STUDIES DOCTORAL PROGRAM JULY 2009 Slide 3: The Danger of Politics What where the key elements of the Political Frame that led to this disaster? From the Political Frame, how did this disaster occur? Looking through the lens of the Political Frame, how could this disaster have been prevented? The Political Backdrop… : The Political Backdrop… 1970 President Nixon makes a critical political choice, cuts Mars and space platform project, but orders the development of a shuttle vehicle. This move shapes NASA’s goals for the future, and puts pressure on the organization to create a universal launch vehicle. Slide 5: President Reagan fuels the space race driven by ambitious commercial and military (national security) goals. Self-sufficient cargo hauler Launching communications “In the BUSINESS of launching satellites” Strategic Defense Initiative The heightened agenda adds the pressure of customer expectations and an increased flight schedule. The Teacher in Space Program: used to support Reagan’s ongoing commitment to education following scathing statements by Democratic Presidential Nominee Walter Mondale. The Political Backdrop Slide 6: Key Elements of the Political Frame The Political Frame insists that organizations are coalitions that are established by people with power and authority. It also analyzes competing interests, organizational interests take priority. Essential Skills: Setting agendas, mapping the political frame, networking and building coalitions, and bargaining and negotiations. Organization as a coalition: internal coalition where each individual member formed their own coalition. Goals and decisions emerge from bargaining and jockeying amongst stakeholders: Delay would tarnish Thiokol’s appearance and potentially result in a loss of profit. Slide 7: Key Elements of the Political Frame SCARCE RESOURCES + DIFFERENCES = CONFLICT Organizations are Coalitions: NASA was part of a complex consortium of organizations including politicians, contractors, military, and the media. Coalition members have enduring differences: Divergent thinking: NASA was driven by profit while astronauts and engineers were driven by safety. Scarce Resources: each of the affiliated organizations with the Challenger launch were impacted by the “power” and potential profit/loss of the Challenger flight; each fighting for: reputation, lucrative supply, and decision-making control. Conflict between scarce resources and enduring differences make “power” the most important asset: NASA was in the driver’s seat. Slide 8: Setting the Stage for Disaster Thiokol Chemical Company has considerable political clout-Chairman of the Senate Aeronautics and Space Science committee Democrat Senator Frank Moss and NASA Administer, Fletcher – were all part of the Utah political hierarchy. NASA was exposed to strong external pressures to meet commercial expectations. Public scrutiny mounted (NASA ridiculed by national news media) The Reagan Administration pushed for the shuttle to be “operational” prior to the completion of the “development” phase. (No common agenda) This push caused conflict, stress and short cuts amongst Thiokol and NASA personnel Success with safety was replaced with political expectations to launch. Slide 9: An Equation for Disaster Political Formula for Disaster: SCARCE RESOURCES + DIFFERENCES = DISASTER The Challenger Formula: Thiokol seeks to keep the Billion Dollar Contract with NASA. + Political and Safety philosophies compete for priority = The loss of all seven astronauts aboard the Challenger Shuttle! Slide 10: Managerial Breakdown to Disaster Calls of the knowledge of a clear and consistent goal: Safety or Profit? Political agenda set: Financially self-supporting and lucrative Shuttle program. (Driven from Presidential and Congressional beliefs) Negotiations: The absence of leadership and group decision-making based on a consistent goal allowed Thiokol to succumb to the fear of potentially losing future revenue. Focus is not on resolution, but on strategy and tactics. Political Morality: The adversarial decision to launch Challenger lacked the considerations of mutuality, generality, openness and caring. Slide 11: Disaster Prevention: Then and Now This disaster could have been avoided if: Thiokol’s leadership had been staunch in their original recommendation that the launch not go forward. NASA was able to successfully coerce and manipulate Thiokol to change their position from “not clear for launch” to “clear for launch”. Ultimately, Thiokol did not wish for their “not clear for launch” recommendation to risk the long-term financial partnership they had with NASA. Slide 12: Disaster Prevention: Then and Now This disaster could have been avoided if: Thiokol had more power and authority over the launch which was not associated with a long-term financial agreement. In the end, the competing political interest of financial gain took priority over safety. What was tragic about the 1986 Challenger Disaster is that Thiokol had originally prioritized safety and then after the power struggle shifted to NASA and their strong desire to launch, the disaster was underway. This is an example of what can happen in the political frame when power is concentrated in the wrong place. Slide 13: Disaster Prevention: Then and Now This disaster could have been avoided if: More decision-making power was placed in the hands of engineers like Boisjoly and Thompson. The flaws in the Space Shuttle Program that ultimately led to the Challenger disaster must be used as a precedent for future situations. Safety must come before all else. Today, the final decision is left to one person, one of the astronauts aboard the space shuttle. Slide 14: Commander Francis Scobee Pilot Michael J. Smith Mission Specialist 1 Judith Resnik Mission Specialist 2 Ellison Onizuka Mission Specialist 3 Ronald McNair Payload Specialist 1 Gregory Jarvis Payload Specialist 2 Christa McAuliffe STS-51-L January 28, 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger Crew SUGGESTED READINGS : SUGGESTED READINGS Boisjoly, R. (2006). Professional responsibility and conduct: Ethical decisions - Morton Thiokol and the Challenger Disaster. Online Ethics Center for Engineering: National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved July 15, 2009, from www.onlineethics.org/CMS/profpractice/ppessays/thiokolshuttle/shuttle_pro.aspx. Bolman, L. G. and Deal, T. E. Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership (The Jossey-Bass Management Series). Jossey-Bass, 2nd edition. Eberhart, J. (2009). Challenger disaster: Rooted in history. Science News. Retrieved July 15, 2009 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_v129/ai_4277487. Shayler, D. (1987). Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. New York: Prentice Hall Press. Vaughan, D. (1996). The Challenger Launch Decision. The University of Chicago Press.

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