From Publishers Weekly
The loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 is usually ascribed to NASA's decision to accept a safety risk to meet a launch schedule. Vaughan, a professor of sociology at Boston College, argues instead that the disaster's roots are to be found in the nature of institutional life. Organizations develop cultural beliefs that shape action and outcome, she notes. NASA's institutional history and group dynamics reflected a perception of competition for scarce resources, which fostered a structure that accepted risk-taking and corner-cutting as norms that shaped decision-making. Small, seemingly harmless modifications to technical and procedural standards collectively propelled the space agency toward disaster even though no specific rules were broken. While Vaughan's complex presentation will daunt general readers, her conclusion that the "normalization of deviance" builds error into all human systems is as compelling as it is pessimistic.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Scientific American
Vaughan gives us a rare view into the working level realities of NASA. . . . the cumulative force of her argument and evidence is compelling.