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Roger Boisjoly and the Challenger Disaster Case Study Memo

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Re: Case Study Memorandum

Subject: Roger Boisjoly and the Challenger Disaster: Disloyal Employee or Courageous Whistle-Blower?

Facts: The focus of this case study is on Roger Boisjoly's attempt to avert the launch of the Challenger and his act of employee loyalty to set the record straight despite the negative outcome. Boisjoly was employed with Morton Thiokol Inc. as an engineer and an expert in rockets. During an examination of the Challenger (STS 61-C), Biosjoly and the Seal Erosion Task Force discovered a problem with the hot-gas blowby or ignited fuel which came from joint leaks and the O-ring convincing the team that it was not safe to launch until the problem was fixed. Boisjoly notified his boss in writing of what was found. Despite what Boisjoly informed his boss, NASA went ahead and did the launch. Predictions came true when a catastrophic explosion resulted from the failed O-ring seals and the Challenger and the crew was lost. President Reagan appointed a commission to look into the devastation and found that the interviews given by senior management of Morton Thiokol and Boisjoly and a fellow engineer contradicted eachother which lead Boisjoly to believe that senior management was trying to cover up what had happened. Boisjoly and his fellow coworker were reprimanded for telling the truth about what really happened. Eventually, Boisjoly resigned from his position due to psychological strain and a hostile working environment.

Ethical Issues: Disloyal Whistle Blowing Employee is how Biosjoly is being identified by Morton Thiokol Inc. As soon as the problem was identified, Biosjoly felt that it was his duty to report it. And being that he reported it to his boss (the agent to the company), it was the boss’ duty to ensure that the proper precautions were taken to eliminate anything catastrophic from happening.

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