The Dark Side of Advanced Technologies: A Case Study of American Airlines Flight 587

Amy Fraher

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    The following chapter is a dark side case study exploring two interrelated sociotechnical themes: the complex contributing factors behind airline accidents and the paradox of advanced technology, a tool that can both improve and debilitate workplace performance. It is often convenient to blame accidents and fatalities on individuals and ‘operator error’, yet there is often another side to the story. By examining the complex series of events related to the 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight 587, the case offers business and management school students an opportunity to analyze the often taken-for-granted assumptions that new technologies are always better, technological developments always improve human performance, and people who resist technological change are cynical naysayers attempting to undermine the inevitable progress new technologies provide. In addition, this case challenges the wisdom of governments allowing high-risk industries such as aviation to essentially self-regulate in today’s neoliberal environments . Through this critical lens, the case encourages students to grapple with the ethics of a real-world dilemma that was identified as potentially catastrophic years before the crash of Flight 587, yet nonetheless proceeded predictably to failure resulting in the death of 265 people. When juxtaposed against the goals of contemporary capitalism and notions of technological determinism , the case yields a variety of in-congruent issues and therefore offers the potential to generate a rich and vibrant classroom debate.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Dark Side 3
    Subtitle of host publicationCritical Cases on the Downside of Business
    EditorsFernanda Sauerbronn, Pauline Fatien Diochon, Albert J. Mills, Emmanuel Raufflet
    PublisherGreenleaf Publishing
    Edition3rd edition
    ISBN (Print)978-1783537570
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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