Volume 95, Issue 61

Tuesday, January 22, 2002
 
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News Briefs

Ivey lecturer says "I told you so"

Ivey lecturer says "I told you so"

By Sarah Lasch
Gazette Staff


Sticking with your personal, moral ethics in today's fast-moving society is a tough thing to do, explained a guest lecturer at the Richard Ivey School of Business last Friday.

Roger Boisjoly, an engineer directly involved in the 1986 failed launch of The Challenger – a tragedy that killed seven astronauts helped shed some light on the importance of managerial ethics facing the leaders of tomorrow.

During his lecture, Boisjoly stressed the dire consequences that result when employees are treated like robots. He used the Challenger disaster as an example of putting profit before people.

"In the late 50s and early 60s there was a shift in focus from long-term profit share to short-term profit share. This backfired big-time," he said.

"They ignored the fact that human beings are the most important resource."

As an engineer working on the space shuttle, Boisjoly said he predicted a 100 per cent failure rate and attempted to stop the launch.

"NASA put on immense pressure to launch and they never looked at the downside of the coin. NASA wanted to launch. It was all about [public relations] and politics," he said.

"If you can't prove it's safe to launch, you can't press the button – to do so is just obscene," he said.

"They knew this, but they did it anyway. The launch was a travesty and should have been prevented. You will never hear me refer to it as an accident. It's a matter of simple common sense that they ignored," he said.

"Profit is not a dirty word, profit should not be looked down upon," he said. "What should be looked down upon is trying to get obscene profit at the expense of people under them."

Masters business administration student Sivan Tamir attended the lecture and said Boisjoly's talk illustrated some important issues.

"He stood his ground in an organization and that's difficult to do," she said.

"It strengthened the issue that anyone can be faced with this decision. There are other factors to remember. You must think of colleagues, the organization, the consumers and yourself."

Christine Pearson, a professor of organizational behaviour at Ivey, said the lecture was a valuable learning experience.

"[Students] were really affected by the passion Mr. Boisjoly has for the issues he presented," she said. "[The lecture will] benefit them in thinking about making difficult decisions and help understand the limitations of the decisions faced in corporations."


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Copyright The Gazette 2001