Chapter 9. Power, Conflict, and Coalition

Early on the morning of February 1, 2003, the U.S. space shuttle Columbia was returning to earth from a smooth and successful mission when something went terribly wrong. The crew was suddenly flooded with emergency signals—the noise of alarms and the glare of indicator lights signaling massive system failure. The craft tumbled out of control before it was finally blown apart. Cabin and crew were destroyed (Wald and Schwartz, 2003a, 2003b).

After months of investigation, a blue-ribbon commission concluded that Columbia's loss resulted as much from organizational as from technical failures. Organizational breakdowns included "the original compromises that were required to gain approval for the shuttle, subsequent ...

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