Challenger And Columbia Case Study

1985 words - 8 pages

For those of us old enough to remember, the Challenger and Discovery shuttle disasters will be forever embedded in our memories. These tragic events were a part of my childhood that unfailingly dictate my thinking and feelings toward the space program, space exploration, and failed organizational initiatives. These events serve as a reminder of the profound results failed management techniques and change processes can have on an organization and the public around them. The Challenger and Discovery disasters may directly affect me more than others because they serve as examples of what happens when closed-minded thinking, refusal to change, and poor communication are part of the norms and foundation of an organization. I find these issues easy to detect within an organization and difficult to change.
The commissions tasked with the responsibility to determine the reason for the disasters. Each of the events was caused by somewhat obvious equipment failures and management initiatives. Research and development can fix operational errors. Honest appraisal, desire, motivation, and careful planning are needed to correct communication problems, management techniques, and employee thinking and feeling. Change initiatives can be a difficult process for everyone involved. Change is even more difficult to sustain. Organizational change can be summarized as a modification of strategy, structure, and processes as a result of internal or external factors. The success of the change initiative is heavily reliant on a common vision, company goals, and employee readiness and willingness to do things differently. Readiness for change is defined as the extent employees hold positive views about the need for organizational change, as well as the extent to which employees believe that changes are likely to have positive implications for themselves and the wider organization (Armenakis, Harris, & Mossholder, 1993). The Challenger incident forced change within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The case study reveals a reluctance and resistance to change. Change initiatives at NASA were superficial cover-ups and speeches about improvement that did little more than mask the reality of the situation within the organization.
Not many organizational disasters are as public as the Challenger and Columbia incidents. As horrific as these events were, they also offer a unique opportunity from which many lessons can be learned. As a part of the government, NASA has always been operated through hierarchical management structures and communication systems. In a hierarchical organization employees are ranked at various levels. Persons of higher rank are given more authority. It is natural that the actions, thoughts, and behaviors of these people also be given more weight and importance. The problem lies in the fact that a government run agency needs to lobby for financial support. The financial need of NASA and unspoken and social...

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