Contemporary Crises

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 399–433 | Cite as

Decision pathways from crisis

A contingency-theory simulation heuristic for the Challenger Shuttle disaster (1983–1988)
  • Alan Jarman
  • Alexander Kouzmin


Crisis simulation is by definition an exercise in cognitive structuring. It is argued that this automatically entails a search for heuristics and organizational decisions which might render complex, highly interactive social and technological situations comprehensible, hopefully amenable to being programmed and, ultimately, controlled. In this paper, a cognitive analysis is presented of alternative paths available to an organization that is in a crisis state to move away from crisis back to more routine modes of operation. Cognitive mapping of plausible post-crisis decision-paths results in a multi-path scheme that enables one to comprehend, even assess, the erratic development of political and socio-technological events in a post-crisis period. The specific example that is used to illustrate the applicability of such a multi-path scheme concerns the revival of NASA following the Space Shuttle disaster. In contrasting the cognitive opportunities in post-crisis situations with the cognitive failures implicit in pre-crisis settings, the multi-path simulation technique enables a more sophisticated understanding of the dynamics of crisis development.


Cognitive Mapping International Relation Simulation Technique Cognitive Structure Alternative Path 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Jarman
    • 1
  • Alexander Kouzmin
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of ManagementUniversity of CanberraAustralia

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