The incidents that led to the reported explosion and deaths of seven astronauts in the Space Shuttle Challenger were evaluated comprehensively in the article written by Ferraris and Carveth (2003) whose findings clearly revealed that groupthink evidently contributed to the disaster . On the other hand, another article written by Wells (2005) contested the allegation and instead, asserted that using the disaster of the Space Shuttle Challenger as an ironic example of groupthink which evidently falls in the same framework where the scenario was evaluated using the components and elements of groupthink
(Wells, 2005, par. 3).
Groupthink was specifically defined as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action” (Wells, 2005, par. 1). The possibility that groupthink might have created decision-making problems for NASA and its booster contractor was explained by Ferraris & Carveth (2003) through evaluating different factors deemed essential in the analysis: antecedent conditions, symptoms of groupthink, and any potential defects that might have ensued in the decision-making process. The characteristics of groupthink that were noted included: overestimation of the group, close-minded perspectives, and pressure to conform to a NASA culture and a sense of uniformity . The report therefore concluded that groupthink was the main source of the disaster since all the incidents satisfied the characteristics, criterion, symptoms, and antecedent conditions.
Wells’ (2005) article however, asserted that the root cause of the accident was a faulty part of the Shuttle Challenger, identified to be the O-Rings. As disclosed, the failure of engineering specification and conformity to strict adherence to safety inevitably caused the disaster. His point of view was focused on the actual reason that caused the Space Shuttle Challenger to be destroyed. This was corroborated by Oberg (2011) who averred that the flaws in the booster caused flames to escape in one of the interfaces and eventually, that, in conjunction with other contributory factors: the O-ring seal, and the management culture at NASA. As revealed, groupthink did not the cause of the disaster, but was a significant contributory factor to it.
Ferraris, C., & Carveth, R. (2003). NASA and the Columbia Disaster: Decision-making by Groupthink? Retrieved from businesscommunication.org: http://businesscommunication.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/03ABC03.pdf
Oberg, J. (2011, January 25). 7 myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster. Retrieved from NBC News.com: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/11031097/#.USPzkh04s0E
Wells, J. (2005, August 19). Groupthink and the Challenger disaster. Retrieved from Jason R. Wells: http://www.wellsj.com/library/groupthink.shtml