Diane Vaughan
#63797 Overall Influence

Diane Vaughan


Why is this person notable and influential?

Diane Vaughan is a professor at Columbia University. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Ohio State University and is best known for coining the term, “normalization of deviance.”

She has theorized that normalization of deviance contributed to the Challenger and Columbia disasters, in which problems, inaccurate results or deviations from the norm become normalized until they cause a catastrophe. This means that the importance of early warning signs is gradually minimized until the damage becomes obvious. Her book on this topic, The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture and Deviance at NASA, was awarded the Rachel Carson Prize and the Robert K. Merton Award. It was also nominated for the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

In healthcare, normalization of deviance occurs for four main reasons: Healthcare workers don’t understand the rationale for guidelines, they consider knowledge imperfect, they feel they must break rules for the common good, or they are afraid to speak up. In all of these cases, exceptions are made to rules over time, resulting in a normalization that degrades order and process. By communicating effectively and monitoring compliance, healthcare organizations can avoid the potential for service degradation.

Vaughan has also studied human relationships – most notably relationship breakups, about which she wrote a book, Uncoupling: Turning Points in Intimate Relationships.

Academic Website

Featured in Top Influential Sociologists Today

From Wikipedia

Diane Vaughan is an American sociologist and professor at Columbia University. She is known for her work on organizational and management issues, in particular in the case of the space shuttle Challenger Disaster.

Source: Wikipedia

Other Resources


What schools is this person affiliated with?
Columbia University
Columbia University

Private Ivy League research university in New York City

view profile

Influence Rankings by Discipline

How’s this person influential?
#383 World Rank