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Cooperative Advocacy: An Approach for Integrating Diverse Perspectives in Anomaly Response


This paper contrasts cooperative work in two cases of distributed anomaly response, both from space shuttle mission control, to learn about the factors that make anomaly response robust. In one case (STS-76), flight controllers in mission control recognized an anomaly that began during the ascent phase of a space shuttle mission, analyzed the implications of the failure for mission plans, and made adjustments to plans (the flight ended safely). In this case, a Cooperative Advocacy approach facilitated a process in which diverse perspectives were orchestrated to provide broadening and cross-checks that reduced the risk of premature narrowing. In the second case (the Columbia space shuttle accident—STS-107), mission management treated a debris strike during launch as a side issue rather than a safety of flight concern and was unable to recognize the dangers of this event for the flight which ended in tragedy. In this case, broadening and cross-checks were missing due to fragmentation over the groups involved in the anomaly response process. The comparison of these cases points to critical requirements for designing collaboration over multiple groups in anomaly response situations.

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Correspondence to David D. Woods.

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Watts-Perotti, J., Woods, D.D. Cooperative Advocacy: An Approach for Integrating Diverse Perspectives in Anomaly Response. Comput Supported Coop Work 18, 175–198 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10606-008-9085-4

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Key words

  • anomaly response
  • space missions
  • mission control
  • accidents
  • replanning
  • premature narrowing
  • Columbia accident
  • cooperative work
  • cross-checks
  • crisis management