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The Space Shuttle Challenger

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Nadiyya S Ismail

on 21 October 2014

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Transcript of The Space Shuttle Challenger

The Space Shuttle
: Case
The Space Shuttle Program began in 1972
Space Shuttle
launched on 28 January 1986, Marshall Space Centre: Florida
Exploded 73 seconds after lift-off after boosters' O-ring seal eroded

"A process through which a course of action or solution is identified and chosen from the options available" (Martin & Fellenz, 2010)

Factors affecting decision-making in this case:
Influence of Power
External Environment e.g. hostile environment, political atmosphere
Organisational e.g. group think, conflict, communication
The Space Shuttle

Nadiyya Sophia Ismail
Federica Zampieron
Rojna Yvonne Samimi
Natalia Rios

Robert Lund
Vice President Engineering-Morton Thiokol
Larry Mulloy
Manager of Solid Rocket Boosted Project Office, NASA

Leadership styles not present in this case:
Full Range Leadership (adapted)
Self-Leadership: strong identity and personal belief.

Leaders who exhibit values of self-leadership, giving them the ability to make judgement calls based on individualised

Characteristics of a hostile environment [business setting]:
harsh organisational climates
intense competition
insecure industry settings.
(Covin and Slevin, 1989)
Stereotyped views of others
(Moorhead, 1991)
Hostile Environment
Leadership Theories
The Influence of Power
Conclusion & Recommendations
Conclusion & Recommendations
Covin, J. G., & Slevin, D. P. 1989, ‘Strategic management of small firms in
hostile and benign environments’. Strategic Management Journal, 10 (1): 75-87.
Kramer, R. C. (1992). The space shuttle challenger explosion: A study of
state-corporate crime. In Schlegel, K and Weisburd, D. (eds). White Collar Crime Reconsidered, Boston, Northeastern University Press: 214-243.
Martin, J., & Fellenz, M. R. (2010). Organizational Behaviour and
Management. Cengage Learning.
Moorhead, G., Ference, R., & Neck, C. P. (1991). Group decision fiascoes
continue: Space shuttle Challenger and a revised groupthink framework. Human Relations, 44(6), 539–550. doi:10.1177/001872679104400601
Shepherd, N. G., & Rudd, J. M.( 2013). The Influence of Context on the
Strategic Decision‐Making Process: A Review of the Literature. International Journal of Management Reviews, 16 (3): 340-364.
Vaughan, D. (1990). Autonomy, Interdependence, and Social Control:
NASA and the Space Shuttle Challenger. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(2), 225. doi:10.2307/2393390

NASA's Marshall Space Centre's engineers wrote 2 memos about the O-ring erosion, both ignored
Launch day forecast was lower than ever tested
Teleconference between Morton-Thiokol, Marshall Space Centre and Kennedy Space Centre.
"take-off your engineering hat and put on your management hat"
Organisational Factors
The Influence of Power

"Power is the capacity to influence others to behave in desired ways."

External Environment
Power Influence

Authority --> Organisation

Obedience --> Individual
Organisational Tactics of Power
Coalition (organisational group)
Consultation (participative
Political Power
Machiavelli theory the means justify the ends)
Game play theory (ability to control events)

Motivation Impact
Vroom's Expectancy theory
-Martin & Fellenz (2010), pp519
Can be overall 'climate' which includes both internal and external organisational factors.
(Shepherd and Rudd, 2013)
(R. Boisjoly)
Link to Shuttle Disaster
Can be linked to both internal and external views of hostile environments.
-->internal structural issues e.g. leadership, communication, conflict, teams etc.
-->external influences e.g. socio-political pressure

Pressure on dissent
Self censorship
Illusion of unanimity
Style of conflict handling --> Competing:
assertive self concern, unassertive concern for others
Sources of Conflict
Incompatible goals
Differing values
Group VS Team
1) Effort --> Hours of work
2) Performance --> Advanced
technology level
3) Outcomes --> Time award, new
international alliances
4) Motivation --> Supremacy
Avoid groupthink by integrating ideas, allowing room for participation and listen to technical advise.
Respect channels of communication to avoid noise.
Team Work. Avoid groupwork.
Conclusion & Recommendations
Implementation of participative power rather than individualised.
Leaders that exhibit self-leadership through individualised consideration etc.
Full transcript