Variations in Risk Management Models: A Comparative Study of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
Managers seeking to assess risk within complex systems face enormous challenges. They must identify a seemingly endless number of risks and develop contingency plans accordingly. This study explores the strengths and limitations of two categories of risk assessment tools: product assessment techniques including Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) and Risk in Early Design (RED) and process assessment techniques, such as Layer of Protection Analysis (LOPA) and the Swiss Cheese Model (SCM). A NASA case study is used to evaluate these risk assessment models. The case study considers the January, 1986, explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, 73 seconds after liftoff. This incident resulted in the loss of seven crew members and consequently grave criticisms of NASA's risk management practices. The article concludes with comparison and recommendations for engineering managers on selecting risk assessment tools for complex systems.
H. M. Altabbakh et al., "Variations in Risk Management Models: A Comparative Study of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster," Engineering Management Journal, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 13-24, American Society for Engineering Management, Jan 2013.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1080/10429247.2013.11431971
Engineering Management and Systems Engineering
Keywords and Phrases
Failure mode and effect analysis; FMEA; FTA; LOPA; Process risks; Risk assessment models; Risk management models; Risk management practices, Managers; NASA; Product design; Risk management; Space shuttles; Tools; Risk assessment; Product and process risk analysis
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Article - Journal
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