Key weakness in decision-making
There are three key groups of people involved in the launch of Challenger: the Engineers and managers at Thiokol directly responsible for the launch and NASA officials who signed off on the launch. The key weaknesses in the decision making of Challenger disaster are a combination of contributing pluralist approach in the organizational structure, corporate culture, managerial habits, and failure of both engineers and management to practice ethical responsibilities.
NASA’s goals to launch a certain number of flights per year and to launch them on time had developed pressure for the individuals at NASA. This launch pressure had led the project manager of NASA, Lawrence Mulloy to comment on Thiokol engineers’ objections to Challenger launch, “My God, Thiokol, when do you want me to launch, next April?” Hence, the external pressures were internalized as NASA’s organization goals, directing the attention on individual decision and leading to the catastrophic disaster. In the nature of pluralistic approach, the organization is viewed as competing sub-groups with their own interests, goals and leaders. In Challenger case, Thiokol engineers were firm on their recommendation to decline the launch. However, the management of Thiokol was more concerned with the high chances of being expelled from the program. This proliferates the organizations and groups with overlapping goals and forces conflicts onto center stage due to each pursing its own objectives. There was a failure to exercise ethnical responsibilities by both the engineers and management. Thiokol engineers succeeded initially in convincing their managers, however they did not have a collective sense that the launch should not occur. The engineer Senior Vice President Jerry Mason final called for a ‘management’ decision to be made during an offline discussion among Thiokol engineers and managers. Mason told Vice President of Engineering Robert Lund, “It’s time to take off...
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