Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Outliers and PDI

Haley Scholars Fall 2013 Reading Groups

In chapter seven “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes,” Malcolm Gladwell discusses the activities of a tragic Korean Air flight and readers get a sense of how the interactions between pilots and co-pilots relates to the larger discussion of cultural legacies. Gladwell explains that some airplane crashes can be linked to the modes of communication (and lack thereof) among the officers within the cockpit.

In addition to pointing out that airplane crashes are the result of a combination of several factors, Gladwell identifies Geert Hofstede’s concept “Power Distance Index" (PDI) – a measuring system “concerned with attitudes toward hierarchy, specifically with how much a particular culture values and respects authority” – as a crucial issue for understanding why, for example, pilots from some nations may have been at a cultural disadvantage for effective and essential communication in an airplane cockpit.

What idea or scene discussed by Gladwell captured your attention most? Why or how so? Please identify the page number for the idea or passage that you cite.   

11 comments:

Andrea R. said...

Page 184 and how it relates to Hofstede's ideas on individualism-collectivism scale (pg.202-203), which I felt related to how pilots interacted with each other as well.

In one instance it cites that around 44% of plane crashes were the result of two pilots who had never worked with each other, which could cause for a possible disconnect between the two and make them revert back to wanting to do things independently of each other. This would cause for the pilots to not communicate problems to each other and therefore cause accidents to happen.

Brianna B said...

I think the scene on 201, which described New York ATC. It really displayed how culture has such a profound effect on a situation. The NYATC was described as pushy and intimidating and I could easily see how that would attribute to added stress on a pilot who is unfamiliar with that, but also I found it interesting that something so rule controlled and regulated still has so much room to be so different just by tweaking culture, language, or context.

Anonymous said...

The scene that captured my attention most was on page 192. This is when the author presented the transcript from Avianca 052 during landing. It captured my attention the most because due to there being a stressful moment to land, the copilot did not follow the directions of the captain. He also wasn't specific in describing the situation making a risky situation more dangerous. He should have been more focused and not nonchalant about it.
-Stephen K.

Celeste C. said...

The transcript starting on page 192 caught my attention due to lack of effective communication. In situations such as those one must use the correct terminology to get point across or the person listening will not comprehend the message. Klotz spoke in a nonchalant manner and one would sense that as a nonemergency.
This type of mitigated speech is used when being polite, feeling embarrassed or during the work setting. In those situations it's appropriate to talk in that fashion but in the cockpit context it's not safe.

Anitra B. said...

The second paragraph on page 180 is what captured my attention the most. This paragraph state how the loss rate for Korean Air, at the same time period, was more than seventeen times higher than the American carrier United Airlines. It's just so shocking that the Korean airline was having so many crashes in that period of time. It also makes me wonder what took them so long to investigate and why the Korean airline was not put under investigation sooner.

Belainesh Nigeda said...

The scene about mitigation captured my attention because I can relate to it. I understand it. There are certain ways the you talk to certain people depending on their role in your life.

Gladwell talked about mitigated speech on page 194;however, on page 197, I was surprised when Gladwell said that planes are safer when the least experienced pilot is flying.
-B.Nigeda

Joey N. said...

The passage that caught my attention the most, was on page 184. It stated that in 52% of crashes, the pilot at the time had been awake for twelve or more hours. This stood out to me because it seems ludicrous to me that airline companies allow pilots to operate this advanced machinery with hundreds of people on it, with less than the recommended amount of sleep. Knowing that the lack of sleep would result in them being less focused and sharp.
Joey N.

Ashley A. said...

On page 186, the events that led up to the crash of the the 707, Avianca, captured my attention, mostly because a lack of fuel isthe last thing that I would've thought would happen. It's one of those things that you assume people would be on top of to make it doesn't happen, but of course it couldn't be helped since they had to do so much circling.There, was the sudden lack of wind, the malfunctioning autopilot, and two failed engines, but the depletion of fuel turned out to be the cause of the crash.

Aliyah Butler said...

The entire page on 184 caught my attention. Mainly, because it was interesting to see the breakdown of plane crashes. Normally, when I think of plane crashes I think that something huge and disastrous caused the plane to go down. But, this page makes it seem like plane crashes are easily preventable. Then, the line about plane crashes happening, because pilots fail to coordinate with each other stood out to me too. It made me think about how important it is that people work properly with others and how valuable communication is. If there are plane crashes that could have been prevented if the pilots had communicated with each other better, then what else could proper communication prevent?

Tiranne Dale said...

The chapter as a whole had my attention but the passage that caught it the most was on page 194-198, more so the passage about Caviedes and Klotz and mitigation. This is because it shows how effective communication is in airlines and how different word choices can change a statement. It made me think about how can you be a pilot and not be comfortable communicating and give hints in a threatening situation? Also how job roles define how you address a matter at hands, since first officers feel like they can't be blunt when talking to their boss. One should not have to repeat themselves several times in dangerous circumstances. Luckily, they have created training to teach communication and commanding skills. But lastly, I also found Ratwatte's approach quite interesting and useful.

Christie Jordan said...

On page 184 the description of what causes plane crashes was the most interesting to me. There's a common misconception that plane crashes are due to drastic errors with the plane or terrible weather. But in this chapter it describes that the probable cause with plane crashes is a lack of communication. I find this interesting that a lack of communication can cause hundreds of lives to be lost. On this page I also found the commonalities of crashes to be interesting. The most interesting fact to me was that in 52 percent of crashes the pilot had been awake for twelve hours or more. To consider the fact that such simple factors such as a lack of sleep and communication can cause plane crashes and ultimately fatalities is mind blowing to me.

Christie Jordan