Academy of Management Journal
2010, Vol. 53, No. 3, 451–476.
FAILING TO LEARN? THE EFFECTS OF FAILURE AND
SUCCESS ON ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING IN THE GLOBAL
ORBITAL LAUNCH VEHICLE INDUSTRY
PETER M. MADSEN
Brigham Young University
University of Colorado, Denver
It is unclear whether the common finding of improved organizational performance with increasing organizational experience is driven by learning from success, learning from failure, or some combination of the two. We disaggregate these types of experience and address their relative (and interactive) effects on organizational performance in the orbital launch vehicle industry. We find that organizations learn more effectively from failures than successes, that knowledge from failure depreciates more slowly than knowledge from success, and that prior stocks of experience and the magnitude of failure influence how effectively organizations can learn from various forms of experience.
On the morning of January 16, 2003, the Columbia lifted off from John F. Kennedy Space Center in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) 113th space shuttle launch. Eightytwo seconds into the launch, a piece of foam insulation broke free from the left bipod ramp area of the shuttle’s external fuel tank and struck the leading edge of Columbia’s left wing. As the orbiter reentered earth’s atmosphere at the conclusion of
its 16-day mission, damage sustained from the
foam’s impact compromised the orbiter’s thermal
protection system, leading to the failure of the left
wing and to the eventual disintegration of the orbiter. None of Columbia’s crew of seven survived. Within minutes of the break-up, the NASA Mishap Investigation Team was activated; within two hours, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board
(CAIB) was established to “discover the conditions
that produced this tragic outcome and to share
those lessons in such a way that this nation’s space
program will emerge stronger and more surefooted” (CAIB, 2003: 6). The 13 members of the board, assisted by a staff of more than 120, “examined more than 30,000 documents, conducted more than 200 formal interviews, heard testimony from
dozens of expert witnesses, and reviewed more
than 3,000 inputs from the general public” (CAIB,
2003: 9). Seven months after Columbia’s demise,
CAIB issued a six-volume, 4,000-page report on the
findings of its investigation. The CAIB Report included 29 specific recommended changes that NASA should undertake prior to the space shuttle’s
return to flight. The space shuttle program was
suspended during the duration of the CAIB investigation and the time required by NASA to implement many of the CAIB recommendations. The space shuttle returned to flight with the launch of
Discovery on July 26, 2005.
The massive CAIB investigation stands in stark
contrast to the minimal investigation that followed
a similar loss of foam insulation from the left bipod
ramp during the launch of the Atlantis on October
7, 2002 (the 111th shuttle launch). Thirty-three seconds into the ascent, foam from the left bipod ramp broke free, impacting and damaging a ring holding
the shuttle’s left solid rocket booster to the external
fuel tank (CAIB, 2003). The damage did not interfere with the launch and did not prevent the safe return of the Atlantis orbiter. The foam loss and
resulting damage were addressed after the return of
Atlantis in a NASA Program Requirements Control
Board meeting in which it was determined that
investigation of the cause of the foam loss was not
a serious enough issue to warrant delays of future
shuttle launches (CAIB, 2003). The investigation
into the incident had not been completed by the
time of Columbia’s launch.
The CAIB Report notes that despite significant
similarity between the foam loss events experienced during the two launches, one dissimilarity explains the vast difference in NASA’s responses to
them and attempts to learn from them:...
2012 09 27
Failure is a Better Teacher than Success
Henry Ford once said: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, this time more
intelligently.” It is hard to imagine that this famous historical figure ever failed in his
lifetime. In fact, many of Ford’s innovative ideas were rejected many times – others, like
the assembly line, are still used today. However, we do not hear of these failures, as
newspapers often emphasize in big bold lettered words like “success” and “win”. Behind
these fabulous stories of success lies a long journey of failures. If you want to truly be
good at something, you must first fail a few times. Failure does not represent shame,
deficit, or loss; in fact, it presents a chance for new opportunity and growth. Meaningful
experiences are created from failures, experiences that strengthen a person’s
determination. Failure also allows you to learn from your mistakes. For these reasons,
failure is a better teacher than success.
What is one trait that a person must have to conquer great things in life?
Determination. A person must have a firm and unwavering idea of what they want to
achieve in order to attain their goal. Failure acts as a teacher by teaching you
determination. This skill will enable you to overcome obstacles in the...
...United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose main objectives are stated to be; facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. The UN delegates these responsibilities to various agencies which include 193 member states. The organization consists of six main bodies as well as several other prominent agencies. The success of the UN, measured given their main objectives, can be seen by many as a complete and utter failure in various instances. The main body which receives most blame for these failures would be the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), in charge of international peace and security. What seem to be countless cases of failure to provide humanitarian aid, failed peace keeping efforts, failure to prevent genocide, failure to implement provisions to Security Council resolutions, as well as many other highly publicized failures have plagued the UN’s reputation. Cases of such matters can hardly be used to defend the UN’s success in facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. Other bodies of the UN have also been put under scrutiny, most recently a controversy within The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)....
...Ambition: a path to success or failure?
William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth, is a play about a general from the King’s army whose ambition leads him to usurp the throne. Macbeth’s initial lie perpetuates him to commit numerous murders to ensure that the heir to the throne is still within his reach. The play highlights a common value held by our society which is that we are responsible for our actions. Although Lady Macbeth initially provoked Macbeth, ultimately, his demise was a result of his own ambition. By questioning his manhood and courage, Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to murder Duncan, however, it was still not justified. The murder of Duncan’s servants, Banquo, and the attempted murder of Fleance was part of a chain reaction which led to the death of Macduff’s family. Finally, the play ends as Macduff murders Macbeth out of sheer rage.
Lady Macbeth is depicted as a very manipulative character that convinces Macbeth to take the life of his own cousin—Duncan. Her ambition and love for Macbeth drives her to question Macbeth’s manhood when she says, “What beast was’t then/ That made you break this enterprise to me?/ When you durst do it, then you were a man.” (I.vii.47-49). This perpetuates Macbeth to continually question his manhood. Furthermore, she taunts him as she questions, “…wouldst thou have that/ which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,/ And live a coward in thin own esteem? (I.vii. 41-43).
Due to their strong...
...Success Is Not Final, Failure Is Not Fatal
What is failure? William Zinsser doesn’t believe that just because you drop out, doesn’t mean you just failed the toughest class you would ever take called life. Confucius once said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Just like Zinsser Confucius also thought that one’s success doesn’t have to depend on working hard it could also depend on failing at something that doesn’t work. There’s rarely such a thing as failure usually it’s success at finding what doesn’t work.
William Zinsser was a writing professor at Yale University in the 1970. William Zinsser was also a writer, columnist, editor, and critic. William Zinsser thought that, one shouldn’t be afraid to fail, because sometimes one will find what one is really looking for in failing. College isn’t for everybody one should standup for oneself and do what one really love to do. It’s okay to dropout but it shouldn’t be a goal of yours. Sometimes one has to fail to succeed. One should also stay true to who one’s self to succeed. “For the young, dropping out is often a way of dropping in.” William Zinsser stated in ‘The Right To Fail’ as an over all conclusion to what a dropout is defined as. Consequently, success is simply a matter of luck confined in anybody that has once failed...
Reaping Success from Failure
Mary Queen R. Bagaoisan
De La Salle University
“Reaping Success from Failure”
Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Failure is an act of proving unsuccessful, and it is also the nonperformance of something due, required, or expected. (Online Etymology Dictionary., n.d.). Nevertheless an individual can overcome the failures in his life by living the present, by focusing on achieving his goals in life and by not worrying about his problems.
In committing failure, a person forgets what his purpose in life, and that is to live, particularly the present. The big question is, why does everyone fear failure? Is it because of the shame that they have experienced? Or is it because they do not want someone to have an edge over them? If they do not want to experience failing again, they should think about something different that they will do next time. Plan A could have failed, but there are still a lot of possible and infinite ways to do it. Always keep in mind to never give up, just look at Steve Jobs the man who created the MacBook, iPad, iPhone, iTunes store and iPod, he got fired from the company he established, but never lost hope and so, he overcame his problems in order to become...
...common goal or completion of a task rather than just a group for administrative convenience. A group, by definition, is a number of individuals having some unifying relationship. Team members are deeply committed to each other's personal growth and success. That commitment usually transcends the team. A team outperforms a group and outperforms all reasonable expectations given to its individual members.
When individuals gather to achieve a common goal, many interpersonal dynamics play a role in whether or not the team will be successful. Sometimes a team can mesh well together and succeed at anything they attempt; however, other teams, regardless of available resources, seem to flounder in failure. Workplace teams have been studied tremendously in recent years, and there are many reasons found why some teams succeed and others fail. Researchers find that work teams cluster at opposite ends of the success continuum. Many function beautifully and others fail miserably. Very few are in the middle. The good news is that teams have been so well studied and that people at so many companies have worked in teams for many years. All this research and experience have produced new insights into what distinguishes the successes from the failures. What matters most, it turns out, is how teams are managed and whether the organizations they’re part of provide them with the support they need. There is considerable research which...
...Ruins of lives and buildings, shattered by the process of war and what it came from, held together by the promise of victory. Hope, however, did not affect the South’s fate. Confederates lost the battle and the government did not affirm the rights they so desired. War has left every life decimated. Newly freed men and white plantation owners, alike, find it difficult to adapt to a world without slavery. The Civil War left no man unscathed.
Before the war ends, citizens elect Abraham Lincoln as president of the Union. September twenty-second of 1862, he issues the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln declares all black men who fight for the Confederacy free. Later, in 1863, he makes every slave in designated parts of the South free. Lincoln writes those included and not included as, “ARKANSAS, TEXAS, LOUISIANA -- except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plcquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. C[???]s, St. James, Ascension Assumption, Terre [???]ne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and O[???]ns, including the City of New-Orleans -- MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA FLORIDA, GEORGIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, NORTH CAROLINA and VIRGINIA -- except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.”
In 1863, Lincoln institutes his...
Re: Expatriate Success and Failure
Under thriving globalization the success of expatriates is more crucial today than ever before. Even though exact expatriate failure rate is not available, it is essential that every expatriate succeeds on foreign assignment due to incurred cost for transfer, accommodation, salary, and trips home. Additional opportunity cost includes loss of future business and reputation in foreign community.
The expatriate failure means either premature return or departure from organization shortly after arriving back. The reasons behind early return are inability to adapt to new culture, family issues, and failure to adjust to a new workplace or find common ground with coworkers. The departure from the organization upon return are caused by failure to adjust to the changed work environment, different than expected position in company, as well as tempting offers from other organizations.
Despite the severity of those problems almost all of them can be prevented and foreseen during selection and orientation processes. The company should look for expatriate that is first of all willing to work abroad, as well as displays human relation skills, has previous overseas experience and knowledge of languages, is open and able to adapt to new experiences. The family situation is should also be taken into account, expatriate should...