Groupthink: Space Shuttle Columbia and Challenger Case

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"Group Decision Fiascoes Continue: Space Shuttle Challenger and a Revised Groupthink Framework" is a review of the tragedy that took place on January 28, 1986 when the space shuttle, Challenger, exploded shortly after launch. This review tells of how "groupthink" was the likely cause of the accident.

The fact that we as a society so easily succumb to groupthink says a lot about us. First, it shows how we are a very conformist society. Peer pressure is still very difficult for us to resist even when something as serious as someone's life is at stake. In order for us not to stick out, we decide to keep our mouths shut about our opinions and reasoning. Our fear of standing out is a dangerous one that has ultimately cost the lives of innocent people. In the Challenger case, groupthink had turned the review upside down. The engineering staff that was advising the leading management committee was forced to try and prove that launching was unsafe. This approach is the total opposite of the norms, which would have been trying to prove that the launch was safe. Second, I would go so far as to say that because of our conformist nature, we have ultimately become cowards. We cannot seem to stand up for what we know must be done. Instead we would rather remove ourselves from that spotlight so that when the time comes and the decision is made, if it is wrong, we can do our best to place blame on someone else rather than take it ourselves. "Accidents" like Challenger have taken place many times after this article was written. That disturbing news seems to point to the fact that we do not take into account the mistakes of our past. Even after noting the numerous accidents that have taken place because of groupthink, many corporations and even our own government falls into this trap. The bankruptcy of Enron, the second disaster with the Columbia space shuttle, and even the decision to go to war with Iraq seems to deal with groupthink. In each case,...
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