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(Clockwise starting in left back row)  Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist  Sharon Christa Mc Auliffe, Teacher  Greg Jarvis, Payload Specialist.

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Presentation on theme: "(Clockwise starting in left back row)  Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist  Sharon Christa Mc Auliffe, Teacher  Greg Jarvis, Payload Specialist."— Presentation transcript:

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2 (Clockwise starting in left back row)  Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist  Sharon Christa Mc Auliffe, Teacher  Greg Jarvis, Payload Specialist  Judy Resnick, Mission Specialist  Ron McNair, Mission Specialist  Dick Scobee, Commander  Mike Smith, Pilot

3  My purpose is to analyze the communication and organizational behavior components that played a significant role in the Challenger space shuttle tragedy.  Image of the Challenger Space Shuttle crash of 1986.

4  Where did the communication breakdowns occur in this tragedy?  What could have been done to have prevented these communication breakdowns and the ultimate explosion?  How did formal roles and reliance on the chain of command influence the events?  Are the communication problems that led up to the launch decisions inevitable in complex, hierarchical organizations?  What role did structural design play in this event?

5  Where did the communication breakdowns occur in this tragedy? › NASA was unaware of recommendations by MTI (Morton Thiokol International) advising against the launch.  Temperatures below 53 degrees were deemed unsafe (NASA, 1986).  Constant opposing views on safety by MTI engineers and upper management further contributed to the breakdowns in communication. › They disagreed over the seriousness of the O-ring problem › They failed to use the same communication style for better understanding.  (Winsor, 1988).

6  Winsor states, “Communication is not just shared information; it is shared interpretation” (p. 101, 1988). › Implies that information was received, but there was a failure by NASA to properly interpret its severity. › The O-ring failure should not have been as unexpected as it was.  Management at Marshall appeared to have the tendency to withhold important information rather than bringing it forward (NASA, 1986). › Portrayed Marshall as a part of the system not interfacing or communicating with the other parts to produce successful flight missions

7  What could have been done to have prevented these communication breakdowns and the ultimate explosion? › There could have been more coordination between MTI, Marshall and NASA.  Integration would have ensured that the overall goals of each organization were achieved (Anthony, Gales, & Hodge, 2003).  Major goal: To have a safe, successful flight mission  The engineers and managers of MTI could have developed a communication style that Marshall and NASA would have been able to interpret and understand.

8  How did formal roles and reliance on the chain of command influence the events? › Three main organizations put pressure on NASA to launch the Challenger as quickly as possible.  Military  Congress  Media  (Neuner & Rider, n.d.)  Without the pressure from these organizations, the Challenger wouldn’t have been rushed to launch. › May have prevented overlooking technical problems with the shuttle

9  Morton Thiokol International (MTI) › Contractor responsible for solid rocket boosters  (Winsor, p. 101).  Between MTI engineers, management in NASA, and Marshall Space Center, news moved slowly. › “News moved slowly among the organizations because they were in a hierarchical relationship, with MTI dependent on Marshall for the contract and Marshall dependent on NASA for funds and career opportunities” (Winsor, p. 101).

10  Are the communication problems that led up to the launch decisions inevitable in complex, hierarchical organizations? › Miscommunication is inevitable to some extent when dealing with different corporate roles, agendas and personalities. › Because there are so many levels, communication is especially vital. › Unfortunately, in this situation, it was a matter of life and death.

11  Differences in corporate roles lead to greater difficulty in communicating (Winsor, p. 101). › Concerns and values often differ › Levels of experience are broad  Lower-level employees are more likely to pass bad news upward than middle- high level management. Why? › In this situation, politics were involved at the higher level. › Pressure to succeed grows stronger as you go up the hierarchical ladder.

12  What role did structural design play in this event? › The structural design of NASA was lacking..  Adequate planning and control systems  Adequate procedures and policies for safe practices  Structure for centralized decision-making  Decisions were being made at all levels of employment  The military, Congress, and the media swayed the decision to launch, thus straying further away from centralized decision-making  With as big of an organization as NASA, decision-making should be centralized.

13  Failure to communicate effectively allowed warnings to be dismissed on the part of MTI, Marshall and NASA.  Communication breakdowns resulted from opposing perspectives and mismatched communication styles.  Hierarchical pressure was evident and the decision to launch was influenced by this pressure.  Structural design impacted the ability to effectively communicate.

14  It seems that MTI and Marshall both did not want to acknowledge safety standards were not all up to par because of hierarchical pressure to launch on time.  “Even when MTI engineers came to believe that a problem existed, they had a difficult time convincing management” of the severity, as well as Marshall, which both shared the same opposing perspective (Winsor, p. 106).  Although the Challenger crash was the result of various technical problems, the ultimate cause of the crash was the communication breakdown.

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16  Anthony, W. P., Gales, L. M., & Hodge, B. J. (2003). Organization Theory: A Strategic Approach (6 th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.  NASA. (1986, February 3). Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from: commission/table-of-contents.html  Neuner, K., & Rider, J. (n.d.). The Challenger Disaster. Retrieved on August 24, 2010, from:

17  Winsor, D. A. (1988). Communication Failures in the Challenger Accident. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, vol. 31, no doi: Retrieved August 24, 2010, from:  Cover Image models-on-the-challenger/  Seven Astronauts Image MB58.html

18  Challenger Explosion Image-  Astronaut in Air Image- _space_shuttle_challenger_astronaut_mccandles_wallpapers.ht ml


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