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The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes

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by Ashley Harnum on 9 December 2013

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Transcript of The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes

The Ethnic Theory
Plane Crashes

In Chapter 7, "The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes”, Gladwell describes the terrible crash of Korean Airlines Flight 801. In 1997, a very experienced pilot misreads plane instruments and according to flight records, had difficulty seeing the runway due to weather conditions. The plane flies into a hillside while landing on the island of Guam, killing 228 people. The crash is part of a pattern of crashes by Korean Airline flights, and in the previous twenty years the airline experiences numerous crashes. Its safety record is so bad that some countries consider banning the airline from operating inside their borders.

Power Distance Index
Attitudes toward hierarchy, specifically with how much a particular culture values and respects authority (In this case the Captain and First Officer)
Top 5 pilot PDI's by country
1) Brazil
2)South Korea
The First Officers in the Korean Air Accidents always hesitated to tell the Captain to do something to try and avoid and crashes but they never said anything because hierarchy plays a big role in their culture.
Others Opinions
Researchers say that PDI played a big role in the plane crashes because if the First Officer had been flying the plane or if he had felt comfortable he wouldn't have hesitated to take action or he wouldn't have kept to himself and instead he would have given the idea to the captain and lives would have been saved because the plane wouldn't have crashed.
Chapter 7
Our Opinion
Cultural legacies play a big role in this story. In Korean culture they are strictly taught to respect their elders. So when the pilot came across an issue, it was considered disrespectful for the co-pilot to correct him, therefore ending in a crash. You cannot let your outdated social and cultural ideals effect your decisions in a modern day work environment especially when your decisions do not just effect yourself but others as well. In this case it not only effected the pilots but the lives of all of the passengers on the plane.
The Lesson that should be learned here is that we should always express our ideas to our peers and never hesitate. If you have a problem don't sugarcoat it, and tell someone who can help you so it can quickly be solved without ending in a disaster. It never hurts to have another set of eyes because maybe you can see something that others cannot. As we learned from the book it may be the difference from life and death. Even a small idea can have a high impact.
Lesson Learned
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