NASA's Incompetence: The Challenger and Columbia Shuttle Disasters Essay

NASA's Incompetence: The Challenger and Columbia Shuttle Disasters Essay

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On an unusually cool Florida morning in January 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 50,000 feet above ground just moments after liftoff killing seven crew members onboard (Palmer, Dunford, and Akin, 2009). A presidential commission, dubbed “the Rogers Commission” (hereafter, the Commission) after former Secretary of State William Rogers, was appointed to investigate the cause of the disaster. Although mechanical failure of an O-ring seal in one of the rocket boosters was identified as the physical cause, the investigation revealed something much more disheartening; organizational deficiencies at NASA had allowed potential safety hazards to be disregarded. The disastrous consequences of NASA’s organizational failure prompted calls for the organization to restructure its management to provide for better control and appoint a team dedicated to identifying and tracking potential shuttle safety hazards as well as redesigning the faulty booster joint for NASA approval. Shortly before the two year anniversary of the disaster, NASA officials declared that the Commission’s recommendations for organizational change had been successfully implemented. Unfortunately, the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia nearly three decades later and a subsequent investigation revealed that the changes made in the wake of the Challenger disaster had not endured. Factors such leaders’ perception of the change process, the type of change being implemented, organizational vision, resistance to change and other challenges all play a role in how change initiatives unfold (Palmer, Dunford, and Akin, 2009). NASA’s narrative is a testament to the complexities and challenges of not only implementing, but also sustaining organizational change.
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...vestigation/CAIB_lowres_full.pdf
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Mariana, P., Daniela, B., & Nadina, R. (2013). Forces that enhance or reduce employee resistance to change. Annals of The University Of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 22(1), 1606-1612.
Palmer, I., & Dunford, R. (2008). Organizational change and the importance of embedded assumptions. British Journal of Management, 19S20-S32.
Palmer, I., Dunford, R., & Akin, G. (2009). Managing organizational change: A multiple perspectives approach (2nd Ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.
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