Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2012

Columbia's Final Mission (Abridged) (A)

by Amy C. Edmondson and Kerry Herman

Abstract

This case documents decision-making processes, organizational culture, and other contributors to NASA's failed Columbia mission in 2003. Addresses the question of how organizations should deal with "ambiguous threats" - weak signals of potential crisis - and explores why ambiguous threats are so challenging to manage.

Keywords: leadership; cognitive biases; teams; organizational culture; organizational learning; ambiguous threat; decision making; Leadership; Organizational Culture; Decision Making; Failure; Crisis Management; Aerospace Industry;

Citation:

Edmondson, Amy C., and Kerry Herman. "Columbia's Final Mission (Abridged) (A)." Harvard Business School Case 612-095, May 2012.