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Roger Boisjoly-The Challenger Disaster Abdul Muqtadir Ansari  Fairleigh Dickinson University
Results of Whistle Blowing 6. Whistle Blowing [ Methods and dissents] 5. Thesis Statement 3.CHALLENGER DISASTER Table of Contents 1. Abstract 2. References 2 . Conclusion 8. Introduction 4. Justification of the dissents 7.
second. Larry D. 1988. So in this analysis. “In analyzing this fundamental issue. to demonstrate the extent to which the ethical ambiguity that permeates the relationship between individual and organizational responsibility contributed to the Challenger disaster. I will explain the reality and will answer the critics who were against Roger Boijoly. Boisjoly was targeted and was blamed for not whistle blowing before the launch of the challenger Shuttle.” (Browning. 211-227) . to reclaim the meaning and importance of individual responsibility within the diluting context of large organizations. Underlying all these issues. p. this paper has two objectives: first.CHALLENGER DISASTER Abstract 3 This case study mainly focuses on the Roger Boisjoly's attempt to prevent the launch of the Challenger and subsequent quest to follow Boisjoly's experiences before and after the Challenger disaster raise numerous ethical issues that are integral to any explanation of the disaster and applicable to other management situations.
ring problem or the unfavorable weather condition during the launch of the shuttle. he cautioned his senior authorities about the risks and dangers associated with the mechanism of the shuttle and he didn’t stop and continued his protest at all stages in the development of the shuttle.CHALLENGER DISASTER Roger Boisjoly-The Challenger Disaster 4 After reading and analyzing in depth about the Challenger Disaster case. He also protested at the later stages of launching of the shuttle. At every step. even during Discovering Leaks in the Primary Seal. during the earlier stages of development of the shuttle. His ethical values urged him to protest and caution NASA about the safety concerns associated with the launch of the shuttle. he tried to whistle blow whenever it was possible for him to do it. at the end. This is because of his ethical values and having a fear of loss of life of crew members. by speaking out at every possible level and from time to time expressing his strong concerns and. at every point. O. he just tried to save humanity. I agree with the action taken by Roger Boisjoly case of the Challenger Disaster. . he risked his career and livelihood only to prevent any fatal accident and hence this proves that whatever Roger Boisjoly did was ethically right and in turn his whistle blowing changed the future towards the safe side for the future generations to be associated with it for a better tomorrow. his strong feelings against the launch. Boisjoly did everything he was ethically obligated to do. where ever he felt. Roger Boisjoly didn’t loose his ethical values. The main reason I support him is because.
The cold weather. as to whether the fatal launch should have taken place. All of these things will be discussed in our case. NASA identified the failure due to the improper sealing of the O-rings. corporate. some of the coldest in Florida history. because of a threat to public interest". Concerns were being voiced by Roger Boisjoly of Thiokol. A rubber band is an example of an elastomer. we will try to get a clear picture about the role played by Roger Boisjoly and to what extend he was responsible for the disaster and indeed whether he was late in whistle blowing or not. So in this case.” [NC State University] On 28 January. provided uncharted waters for the operation of the SRBs. .CHALLENGER DISASTER Introduction Definition of whistle-blower 5 “Whistle-blowers are seen as people who "sound an alarm from within the very organization in which the work. The Challenger accident was the result of a faulty sealing system which allowed exhaust flames from the Solid-Fuel Rocket Boosters (SRB) to vent directly to the external tank. The article "Whistleblowing and Trust: Some Lessons from the ADM Scandal " focuses on the question of personal. which seals the joint between two solid rocket booster sections. 7 lives and three billion dollars worth of equipment were lost. 1986 the Challenger space shuttle blew up 73 seconds after launch. rupturing the tank and causing the explosion. the SRB manufacturing company from time to time. and public trust. The O-ring is made of a fluoroelastomer. An elastomer is a material that can be deformed dramatically and recover its shape completely. the giant black rubber loops that help seal the segments of the SRBs.
As a result. each of whom takes actions in response to the others. no whistle-blowing case can be described as typical. Whitacre. 96] To start off with. define it as such and report it.” [Near. It is evident from his statement published by himself in a seminar 20 years after the disaster of the Challenger shuttle. Although this definition has been widely used. Brewer & Selden. 1987). there are several elements of it that are controversial (Near & Miceli. by ourselves (Miceli & Near. 1992).. to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action. as we saw in the case of Mr. Miceli.g. 4). whistle-blower(s) who observe the wrongdoing.CHALLENGER DISASTER Whistle Blowing [Methods of disagreement and dissent]: “Three things are required for whistle-blowing to occur in organizations: 6 wrongdoer(s) who commit the alleged wrongdoing. 1992) and others (e. Further. then. whistle-blowing is a dynamic process involving at least three social actors. At any point. immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers. Janet P. 1985). each of which we consider. Perry. 1985. decisions are made and tradeoffs considered that causes variation in the process. “Elsewhere we have defined whistle-blowing as: "the disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal. “The significance of starting with January.. and recipient(s) of the report of wrongdoing. Roger Boisjoly found out certain defects and errors in the hardware of the shuttle. possibly over a number of years (Dozier & Miceli. Whistle-blowing is in fact a series of steps. in the early stages of the development of the shuttle. we attempt here to determine the extent to which the definition can be improved through consideration of other disciplines' perspectives. 1995. where each player takes actions. 1985. Marcia. results from my observations made . p. In other words." (Near & Miceli.
CHALLENGER DISASTER during the post flight inspection of hardware from Flight 51C which was launched on 7 January 14. I was ordered to MSFC to present a preliminary report prior to formal FRR meetings. Subsequent to reporting my findings. 1985. The presentations were given at MSFC in February at three successively higher level review boards with exclusions and refinements in content made at each board level. I participated in the formal FRR's for flight 51E which was scheduled for an April launch. I spoke about my belief that the low ambient temperature prior to launch was responsible for such a large witness of hot gas (approximately 5500 °F [3040 °C]) blow-by but NASA Program Management insisted on that position being softened for higher and final review board presentations.1985 reads as follows: "An attempt to form the team (I was referring to the SIRM Seal Erosion Task Team) was made on 19 July 1985. it is quite evident from the following: “Again. May’06).65 °F (16 to 18 °C) range at launch time and resulted in a seal temperature of 53 °F ( 12 °C) -which was calculated after the damage was found. My notebook entry on August 15. This attempt virtually failed and resulted in my writing memo 2870:FY86:073. I found that hot combustion gases had blown by the primary seals on two field joints and had produced large arc lengths of blackened grease between the primary and secondary seals. The ambient temperature was 18 to 22 °F (-8 to -6 °C) several days prior to launch and in the 60 . The first meeting was held on August . This was during the early 1985 where he cautioned the management about the problem with the hardware. my concern about the joints increased due to the lack of attention being given to this problem by MTI. there was another scenario where Boisjoly wrote in the form a letter complaining about the O-Ring problem. This memo finally got some response and a team was formed officially.” ( Boisjoly.
" The memo I referred to is the one I wrote to the Vice President of Engineering at MTI on July 31. both before ad after the disaster of the Challenger Shuttle ." "If the same scenario should occur in a field joint (and it could). “ Thompson has identified and discussed four distinct types of dissents. The memo reads as follows: "Subject: SRM O-Ring Erosion/Potential Failure Criticality. 1986. The result would be a catastrophe of the highest order--loss of human life.CHALLENGER DISASTER 8 15. The mistakenly accepted a position on the joint problem was to fly without fear of failure and to run a series of design evaluations which would ultimately lead to a solution or at least a significant reduction of the erosion problem. 1985.m. May’05). They are as follows: . Let us now consider the ways Roger Boisjoly showed his dissent. This letter is written to ensure that management is fully aware of the seriousness of the current O-ring erosion problem in the SRM joints from an engineering standpoint. This position is now drastically changed as a result of the SRM 16A nozzle joint erosion which eroded a secondary O-ring with the primary O-ring never sealing. ( Boisjoly." ”. then it is a jump ball as to the success or failure of the joint because the secondary O-ring cannot respond to the clevis opening rate and may not be capable of pressurization.Firstly. 1985 at 2:30 p. The memo was stamped COMPANY PRIVATE by my boss and had a very limited distribution until I read it to the Presidential Commission on February 25. we can conclude that indeed he was worried about the life of people associated with the shuttle and thus proves that ethically he was right and he showed his dissent in this way. So from the above two statements made by Roger Boisjoly.
CHALLENGER DISASTER 1) Protesting “within the organization”. again in this case too he was asked to soften and ignore it. while still doing one’s job 9 2) Expressing disagreement “outside the organization”. This type of dissent can be classified in the first form of dissent mentioned by Thompson. when he met Arnie Thompson to discuss the blow-by scenario and the effect of cold temperature on O-ring resiliency. Leaks). we can understand that. In the beginning.g. partially while he was still in the organization and after being outside the organization. but to no avail.e protesting within the organization while still doing one’s job during the development process of the shuttle and the second one will be after the aftermath of the shuttle. Roger Boisjoly reported this to his supervisors and he was told to ignore the problem. i. it is quite evident that when it was discovered about the leaks in the primary seal. As we can see from time to time.”[Thompson.e protesting within the organization while still doing one’s job.e. In the later cases. while continuing to do one’s job 3) The “open obstruction of policy” 4) “Covert obstruction” (e. From this. but to protect the lives of the people involved with it. not for name or fame. i. the first and second one will be. He even wrote memos and gave presentations on the same. in Roger Biosjoly’s case. Roger Boisjoly along with his team were showing concern. The only reason I think he didn’t whistle blew the situation can be due to the fact that. p. 557-559 ]. explaining them in detail. he was not having solid full proof evidence for the same. i. Even during the time of the launch of the .
They later said that they had worried they lacked conclusive data to stop a launching that had already been postponed twice. At first this seemed persuasive. told his fellow executives to take off their engineering hats and put on management hats. “How the hell can you ignore this?” he demanded. 1986. . Makers of critical components had the power to postpone flights. But it was one night and one moment that stood out. Boisjoly worked for 27 years in the aerospace industry. Boisjoly said. 2012] All these cases and examples can be classified in the first form of dissent classified by Thompson. all engineers themselves. he slapped down photos showing the damage cold temperatures had caused to an earlier shuttle. Boisjoly and four other Thiokol engineers used a teleconference with NASA to press the case for delaying the next day’s launching because of the cold. Jerry Mason. They told NASA it was a go. occurred and thus took the lives of the crew members and thus reducing the value of life which is unethical. It had lifted off on a cold day.”[Martin. not science. If you look at this article. Four Thiokol vice presidents. but not this cold. They thought the naysayers might be operating on gut reaction.CHALLENGER DISASTER 10 shuttle. Roger and his team again recommended not to launch the shuttle and that too in the bad weather which was again overlooked and finally the disaster which could have avoided. February. Thiokol’s general manager. Roger “Mr. you will be more convinced about the efforts and the dissent showed by Mr. Mr. according to commission testimony. went offline to huddle. On the night of Jan. 27. Mr. At one point.
which he had written six months before the disaster. was a bombshell which exploded on the NASA and the booster manufacturing company he was associated with. to tell the truth. this time around. Though in our case study. in which Boisjoly was one of the witnesses called. As a result of it. It was quite evident from the article published below: . So these are the two types of dissents present in the case and in the coming part of it.CHALLENGER DISASTER 11 “ The public servant is morally bound. Roger Boisjoly went public for the first time openly accusing both his company and NASA responsible for it. The disclosure of the internal memo. After the commission gave its findings. i. I will talk about the results of those dissents. He gave explanations about why he felt the O-rings had failed. Mr. he had to resign from his post and was left jobless and it affected his livelihood. Both whistle-blowers and people accused of wrongdoing suffer whether the allegations are ultimately sustained or not. we will throw more light on our main character. there were certain bad effects for both Roger Boisjoly and for NASA and the companies associated with it in the making of challenger shuttle. Boisjoly found himself shunned by colleagues and also by the managers and thus he resigned from the company.” [Wilibern. just as are other persons.e. And he has to pay the consequences for it by resigning from the job after President Ronald Reagan ordered a presidential commission to review completely about the disaster. and to abide by the requirements of the law. (1984).] After the disaster of the Challenger Shuttle. When Roger Boisjoly went public for the first time after the disaster. Y. Results/Consequences of the dissent shown: In the case of Roger Boisjoly. Roger Boisjoly. to respect the person and property of others. Boisjoly gave the presidential commission who were investigating the disaster internal corporate documents. to keep promises.
and spoke to more than 300 universities and civic groups about corporate ethics. and he was shunned by colleagues and managers. February. . 2012] But his sacrifices and sincerity paid off and he lived up to his ethics. I’m going to put my kids on your doorstep.” he said in a whisper to a Newsday reporter in 1988. Sally Ride. hugged him after his appearance before the commission. February. secure and free tomorrow. He filed two suits against Thiokol. “She was the only one. “The only one. He became sought after as an expert in forensic engineering. “If you wreck this company. Because he was right. “Mr. He had headaches. A former friend warned him. an act called “Whistle blower Protection Act of 1989 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate]” came into effect and we can say that Roger Boisjoly’s case played a significant effect for that to happen. much appreciated his efforts and as a result of it he got many recognitions and awards. he said.CHALLENGER DISASTER 12 “ Thiokol cut him off from space work. if you look at the brighter side of the world. He later said he was sustained by a single gesture of support. both were dismissed.” Mr.”” [Martin. He yelled at his dog and his daughters and skipped church to avoid people. double-vision and depression. Boisjoly told The Los Angeles Times in 1987.” [Martin. So on the whole. 2012] There was also one more positive result on the whole and it was on the bright side for the future. Boisjoly was awarded the Prize for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. the first American woman in space. it played an important role in everyone’s life in a safe.
The various obligations or responsibilities of Roger Boisjoly were as follows: 1. 2. To fulfill his duties and responsibilities of an engineer by making sure that the job assigned to him of running the booster was implemented successfully. The main important ethical values and moral principles that were at stake in this case were of not protesting against anything which can cause danger to humanity in any form. We can get to know more about it from the following statements: . he maintained a certain code of ethics. if we see that what Mr. followed the rules and regulations to an extend that it didn’t clash with his own personal values and standards which he has set for himself. He has to obey the orders of the company and listen to them in any situation. Code of ethics differs from person to person and from culture to culture. he presented memo. he did it in a good way. but he should not go against the moral values which are present in them. should follow the standards maintained by the company. but I would defend his action by saying that. I would appreciate his actions and the efforts he has put into trying to stop from something bad to happen. Ethically speaking. because he was following the safety guidelines which everyone should follow. So based on my view. Roger did was not against the company. Some people disagree with him that he should have whistled blew earlier before the shuttle was launched.CHALLENGER DISASTER Justification of the dissents: 13 Different people have different kind of thinking and upbringing. An employee who is working in a company. but I would like to defend his actions by saying that he wasn’t rude. but it was for the betterment of the company. consulted with his senior professionals and cautioned them in a good way about the worst consequences that could happen if the shuttle was launched.
chairman of the ethics committee for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)." says William Middleton. A spokesman for Morton Thiokol declined to comment on any matter relating to Boisjoly." He has turned that experience into a campaign for stronger professional ethics and for the need to speak out against risk." says Westrum. he's a hero. who follow professional ethics issues. But colleagues applaud Boisjoly's efforts to raise the issue of professional ethics and to stress its importance. January. even if the penalty is stiff. chairman of the ethics committee for IEEE USA." says William Middleton." Regardless of how Boisjoly is ultimately labeled. He visits college campuses about twice a month. . "The students see him as a role model. Consultant Ron Westrum (see accompanying story). And now he's sort of blacklisted. where his message is well-received. "I think he will do a great deal to change the ethical perspective [of future engineers]. "He's one of a very small group of people who have had the courage of their convictions. says that society needs these so-called Chicken Littles. those like IEEE's William Middleton and General Motors Corp. "He took the matter into his own hands and dealt with it by going public on a whistle-blowing campaign. For those of us who do work in the ethics area. I can conclude that Roger Boisjoly was a good nature person who had many good qualities and was obliged to many ethical values and hence he should be given respect according to the work and sacrifices he has done to abide by good ethical values. "I would encourage people to be courageous.CHALLENGER DISASTER 14 “ His former employer does not share a Boisjoly's eagerness to discuss his actions and their meaning.” [Pennisi. 1990] So from all the above points mentioned along with the references given. saying that the subject is closed.
. I would defend him by mentioning the fact that NASA and his company were just busy to make the shuttle ready for the launch and ignored many of his warnings and also told him to keep quiet in that case.”[ Thompson. That is why in my eyes Roger Boisjoly was a hero because of his never dying attitude towards the right thing. 1980]. Dec. Page 906. responsibility for political outcomes falls on the person who stands highest in the chain of authority. he was not having a solid proof which could have made them understand It. I can justify his point with the following statements: “According to the hierarchical model.CHALLENGER DISASTER 15 I don’t think so that Roger Boisjoly should have acted differently as because during the time of protest.
wrote. I would like to salute Roger Boisjoly for his sincere efforts he put in to save humanity while being at work and also after resigning from the company. The torture leaves no mark. the chief medical officer for England’s National Health System. and the resultant world goes on while leaving the whistle-blower (and surviving family. and no one addresses whistle-blowing. No one sees them missing in group photos. 1987] . To finish my essay.CHALLENGER DISASTER Conclusion 16 To conclude. No one notices the absence of whistle-blowers. nor misses their names in employee recognition events.” [Berkes. Much better than Jimmy Hoffa’s demise with that pesky media and all keeping his name alive and the issues addressed. And really. I would like to share few points mentioned about him below: Professor Liam Donaldson. and hope they are among us. ostracism and suicide. it’s the perfect crime. the total and complete losses. Because it’s like a Holmes’ dog that didn’t bark. nor has any notion at all about their well-being. he played a very important role in spreading awareness about workplace ethics and how one should act in any kind of situation and live a life with the head always towards the sky. if any) in literal limbo. No one addresses the life ruination. Whistle-blowers are disappearing much more cleanly and completely than any CIA black site prison. but to base our hope of remedy in ordinary systems on the existence of extraordinary courage is insufficient. We should “applaud heroes. He is a role model to many people and brought awareness among people to protest against the wrong.” I pretty much scoured the literature.
“ Whistle-blowing: Myth and Reality. “Challenger's Whistle-Blower: Hero And Outcast” published by Elizabeth Pennisi on January 20. Types and Levels of Public Morality.html?_r=0 6. 45 (5). 102-108. 4. 1988.. Janet P.” Published by Browning. Wilibern.com/?articles.nytimes. Organization Environment 2 (3): 211227. Journal of Management. 01492063. “Moral Responsibility of Public Officials: The Problem of Many Hands” published by Dennis F.edu/stable/1954312 8. 3.CHALLENGER DISASTER References 1. Issue 3 5. "Pre-Disaster Background (Ethical Decisions . 2.org. Marcia P. 5/15/2006. 17 “Interpreting the Challenger Disaster: Communication under Conditions of Risk and Liability. “ Roger Boisjoly. 22. Thompson. 1990 retrieved from : http://www. 73. Retrieved from : http://www.” Public Administration Review.Morton Thiokol and the Challenger Disaster)" Online Ethics Center for Engineering. Vol.jstor. Warned of Shuttle Danger” published by Douglas Martin Published on February 3. Y. 555-561.fdu.the-scientist. published by Dennis Thompson on September/October 1985.com/2012/02/04/us/roger-boisjoly-73-dies-warned-of-shuttledanger. (1984).” Published by: Near. 44 (2).view/articleNo/10849/title/Challenger-sWhistle-Blower--Hero-And-Outcast/ 7. “The Possibility of Administrative Ethics. Page 905 of 905-916 retrieved from http://www. Miceli. Dies. . 1996 Special Issue.. Public Administration Review. Larry D.libaccess. 2012.
edu/basics/whistle/study.ncsu. “Whistle-blowing” by NC State University retrieved from : http://ethics.CHALLENGER DISASTER 9.wordpress.php 10.csc. “The only one” published by Howard Berkes in 1987 retrieved from : http://incompatiblewithlife.com/2012/02/04/the-only-one/ 18 .
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