The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA, Enlarged Edition

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, 2016 M01 4 - 620 pages
When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986, millions of Americans became bound together in a single, historic moment. Many still vividly remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the tragedy. Diane Vaughan recreates the steps leading up to that fateful decision, contradicting conventional interpretations to prove that what occurred at NASA was not skullduggery or misconduct but a disastrous mistake.
Why did NASA managers, who not only had all the information prior to the launch but also were warned against it, decide to proceed? In retelling how the decision unfolded through the eyes of the managers and the engineers, Vaughan uncovers an incremental descent into poor judgment, supported by a culture of high-risk technology. She reveals how and why NASA insiders, when repeatedly faced with evidence that something was wrong, normalized the deviance so that it became acceptable to them. In a new preface, Vaughan reveals the ramifications for this book and for her when a similar decision-making process brought down NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nandadevi - LibraryThing

The Challenger Space Shuttle disaster has become a favoured model for management gurus who talk glibly about amoral decision making, internal communication failures and the normalisation of aberrance ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PointedPundit - LibraryThing

Institutions Create and Condone Risk The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986. To millions of viewers, it is a moment they will never forget. Official inquiries into the accident ... Read full review

Contents

The Eve of the Launch
1
Learning Culture Revising History
33
Risk Work Group Culture and The Normalization of Deviance
77
The Normalization of Deviance 19811984
119
The Normalization of Deviance 1985
153
The Culture of Production
196
Structural Secrecy
238
The Eve of the Launch Revisited
278
Lessons Learned
387
CostSafety Tradeoffs? Scrapping the Escape Rockets and the SRB Contract Award Decision
423
Supporting Charts and Documents
432
On Theory Elaboration Organizations and Historical Ethnography
456
Acknowledgments
465
Notes
469
Bibliography
533
Index
551

Conformity and Tragedy
334

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2016)

Diane Vaughan is professor of sociology and international and public affairs at Columbia University.

Bibliographic information