Title: The Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger accident: a management perspective

Authors: A.L. Minkes

Addresses: Emeritus Professor of Business Organisation, University of Birmingham, UK; currently Visiting Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Abstract: In January 1986 seven crew members of the US Space Shuttle Challenger lost their lives in a major accident that has set back the shuttle programme. The Presidential Commission set up to investigate the accident has reported its findings, and this paper reviews Volume I of the Commission|s report. In particular it deals with some of the management and organizational aspects of the decision to launch Challenger and with the Commission|s recommendations for a return to safe flight. It illustrates the idea that while the immediate cause of the accident was a technical failure, there were management and informational factors which played a major part in the whole process. The author looks at ways of strengthening management structures in organizations which undertake large, highly-complex, technological projects.

Keywords: decision making process; management structures; organisational structures; catastrophic failures; risk factor; US Space Shuttle programme; Challenger accident; Presidential Commission; flight safety; technical failure; technology management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.1988.025990

International Journal of Technology Management, 1988 Vol.3 No.5, pp.579 - 586

Available online: 26 May 2009 *

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