Challenger: Fine-Tuning the Odds Until Something Breaks

Journal of Management Studies, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 319-340, 1988

21 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2015

See all articles by William H. Starbuck

William H. Starbuck

University of Oregon - Charles H. Lundquist School of Business; New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Frances J. Milliken

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Date Written: 1988

Abstract

The Challenger disaster illustrates the effects of repeated successes, gradual acclimatization, and the differing responsibilities of engineers and managers. Past successes and acclimatization alter decision-makers' beliefs about probabilities of future success. Fine-tuning processes result from engineers' and managers' pursuing partially inconsistent goals while trying to learn from their experiences. Fine-tuning reduces probabilities of success, and it continues until a serious failure occurs.

Keywords: learning from experience, intraorganizational politics, success, fine-tuning

Suggested Citation

Starbuck, William H. and Milliken, Frances J., Challenger: Fine-Tuning the Odds Until Something Breaks (1988). Journal of Management Studies, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 319-340, 1988, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2708154

William H. Starbuck (Contact Author)

University of Oregon - Charles H. Lundquist School of Business ( email )

1208 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1208
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Frances J. Milliken

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

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