Apollo, Challenger, and Columbia: The Challenger Syndrome and the Decline of US Organizations and Institutions / Edition 1

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Tompkins (emeritus organizational communication, U. of Colorado-Boulder) traces changes in internal and external communications at the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from its beginnings just after World War II through the breakup of the Columbia space shuttle in February 2003. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931719322
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/30/2004
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface x
Introduction and Acknowledgments xxi
Chapter 1 The Columbia Accident 1
Forecast 1
The Mystery 4
Debris Rains on Nacogdoches, Texas 7
The Internet 9
The President Speaks 10
A NASA News Conference 10
Houston, Texas, Loses Heroes 11
Reactions at the Cape 12
The Crew and Its Mission 14
Possible Causes of the Disaster 17
Chapter 2 The Week Following: Debris, Data, and Fault Trees 19
Monday, February 3, 2003 20
Tuesday, February 4, 2003 26
Wednesday, February 5, 2003 32
Thursday, February 6, 2003 34
Friday, February 7, 2003 38
Saturday, February 8, 2003 41
Chapter 3 Culture and Communication in NASA 47
Redding's Ideal Managerial Climate 48
NASA's Culture and Climate 51
Research and Testing 57
In-House Technical Capability 58
Hands-On Experience 59
Exceptional People 61
Risk and Failure 62
Frontier Mentality 64
Chapter 4 Communication and Culture in the Marshall Space Flight Center 67
A Research Opportunity at MSFC 67
The Arsenal Concept 70
Organizational Structure at MSFC: Mitosis 71
Project Management 72
Formal Versus Informal Organization 74
Upward Communication as an Earthquake Prediction System 78
Shepherd's Three Problems 79
The Mushroom Problem 81
The Monday Notes 82
Monday Notes as Organizational Learning 85
Automatic Responsibility 87
Penetration 88
A Briefing for Shepherd 90
The Saturn V Control Center Problem 90
Briefings and Weekly Notes for Headquarters 92
Briefing for von Braun 93
Staff and Board Briefing 95
Saturn V Flies 96
Return to MSFC 96
Cultural Categories 99
Research and Testing 99
In-House Technical Capability 99
Hands-On Experience 100
Exceptional People 101
Risk and Failure 101
Frontier Mentality 101
Open Communication 102
Topoi and Tradeoffs 104
Organizational Identification 105
Unobtrusive Control 107
Chapter 5 The Challenger Accident 111
Claus Jensen and No Downlink 119
Feynman's Two Experiments 119
The 'Challenger Syndrome' 121
Diane Vaughan and The Challenger Launch Decision 122
A Faustian Bargain 124
Chapter 6 The Mysteries of Columbia Continue 129
The Avuncular Anchor 130
A Changed Culture? 134
E-Mail Excerpts 138
O'Keefe Gets Grilled 141
Ron Dittemore and Others Are Reassigned 142
CAIB Adds Three New Members to Inquiry 143
Groupthink? 144
CAIB Hearing and a Double Meaning 147
Two More Deaths 147
Bordering on the Irresponsible? 149
A Little Bit of an Echo 150
To Scapegoat or Not 151
Rescue Try 'Conceivable' 156
The Wisdom of Yogi Berra 156
Linda Ham Meets the Press 159
Chapter 7 Reading the CAIB Report: Echoes of Challenger and a Cultural Fence 163
Fault Tree Analysis 164
1. Solid Rocket Booster Bolt Catchers 164
2. Kapton Wiring 165
3. Hypergolic Fuel Spill 165
4. Space Weather 165
5. Asymmetric Boundary Layer Transition 165
6. Training and On-Orbit Performance 166
7. Payloads 166
8. Willful Damage and Security 166
9. Micrometeoroids and Orbital Debris Risks 166
10. Foreign Object Damage Prevention 166
The Mystery of NASA's Culture 169
Testing Feynman's Hypothesis 171
Other Communication Problems 174
Organizational Causes 175
Fasterbettercheaper 176
The Safety Culture 179
Chapter 8 of the CAIB Report 180
8.1 Echoes of Challenger 180
8.2 Failures of Foresight: Two Decision Histories and the Normalization of Deviance 181
8.3 System Effects: The Impact of History and Politics on Risky Work 181
8.4 Organization, Culture, and Unintended Consequences 182
8.5 History as Cause: Two Accidents 182
8.6 Changing NASA's Organizational System 184
The Two Cultures Argument 185
1. Research and Testing 187
2. In-house Technical Capability 187
3. Hands-on Experience 188
4. Exceptional People 188
5. Risk and Failure 188
6. Open Communication 189
7. Organizational Identification and Control 190
A Footnote on Control 190
Recommendations 195
1. Near-Term: Return to Flight 195
2. Mid-Term: Continuing to Fly 195
3. Long-Term: Future Direction for the United States in Space 196
Chapter 8 The Challenger Syndrome and the Decline of American Organizations and Institutions: 'Speaking Truth to Power' 201
'Wal-Mart Effect' 212
The Golden Rule 220
Notes to Chapter Eight 230
Chapter 9 Chicken Little, the Ostrich, and Spiderman 233
The CAIB Report and the Press 233
An Insider's View 236
Chicken Little and the Ostrich 238
The Meaning of the Situation as Influencing Behavior 245
Ideal Managerial Climate 246
To Scapegoat or Not 247
The Two-Cultures Hypothesis 249
The Historical Perspective 250
Final Recommendation 253
Ontological Anxiety 254
Coda 256
Cast of Characters 261
Managers at Time of Crash of Columbia 261
Columbia Astronauts (as given in CAIB) 261
Debris Search Pilots (Killed in Action) 261
Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) 261
Glossary of Acronyms and Technical Terms 263
References 271
Name Index 275
Subject Index 281
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