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(For Open Universities Australia students)
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Assignment No.
Assignment Title
Due Date
Assignment 2
Group Case Study “a Mir Kiss”
Contact Info
Organisational Behaviour
Mary Ferguson
Email [email protected]
Chris Pitman-Jones
Email: [email protected]
Anita Mahoney
Email: [email protected]
Jeremy Cattell
Email: [email protected]
Toni Huggett
Email: [email protected]
Lauren McAlister
Email: [email protected]
Word Count:
Turnitin No.:
(If Applicable)
(If Applicable)
Date Received
The ‘Group 159’ News
Assignment 2 group case study
- Since 01/08/2011
‘A Mir kiss’?
What on Earth caused Mars behaviour experiment to fail!
Psychologists at Moscow’s Institute for
Biomedical Problems (IBMP), implemented
an experiment to learn more about the
effects of sustained isolation in space.
A crew of seven males and one female (Judith
Lapierre) were selected for an experiment
involving sustained isolation inside a
simulated Russian space station.
(above): Cosmonauts Inside the
Russian simulator
(inset right): Judith Lapierre
Claims of violence during the experiment,
and that Lapierre was unwillingly grabbed
and kissed aggressively by a colleague have
since surfaced, sparking international
Group 159
Overview & Contents
“Aliens made me do it”. Well, not quite, but it could have been one of the
explanations put forward by a team of Russian Cosmonauts for some
extraordinary behaviour during a recent scientific experiment at Moscow’s
To study the effects of long term isolation in space the Russian institute
replicated sections of the MIR Space Station. In one section there were 4
Cosmonauts who were to spend 240 days performing tasks similar to the ones
performed on the space station.
Organisational Behaviour
After 120 days in isolation the Cosmonauts were joined by 3 international
researchers, who lived in the second section. They were to spend 110 days
working with the Cosmonauts, studying their behaviour. The whole experiment
was controlled by IBMP scientists and psychologists.
But, after only one month things went wrong. Allegations of violence,
drunkenness and sexual assault started to emerge. The result was that the
international researchers, fearing for their safety, barricaded themselves off
from the Cosmonauts. After repeated requests for intervention from the IBMP
controllers were ignored, one of the international researchers went home
early. So what went wrong?
Our hard hitting investigative team: ‘Group 159’, looks into the MIR KISS story
and brings you a behind the scenes investigation into the events that occurred
and the Organisational Behavioural implications arising from this story.
Experiment Set up
Team Development
Staff Support
A Group 159 special report
Group 159
From Russia with love:
A number of events occurred during the MIR
experiment that caused it to go off the rails. Here
Group 159 looks into these events and highlights
some of the Organisational Behavioural practices
that were lacking, non existent, or just very
poorly handled.
Here are some of the events that our team were able
to uncover about the MIR KISS experiment:
The IBMP scientists provided alcohol to the
Cosmonauts to celebrate New Year!
Two of the Cosmonauts became drunk and had a
We ask:
Was the experiment set up properly?
What integration activities were put in place
to ensure that the two crews worked well
Is throwing two groups of technical scientists
together for the first time to spend 110 days
violent and bloody confrontation!
The international researchers hid the knives in their
kitchen from the Cosmonauts for fear of more
One of the international researchers, a woman, was
kissed, not once, but twice, by the Cosmonaut
The international researchers complained to the
Who was in charge?
Where was the Leadership?
IBMP controllers and were told to sort it out
What level of support was there for the
crews when things went wrong?
The international researchers barricaded their living
Is Glasnost dead?
Read on to find out what our team discovered.
themselves – as though they were actually in space!
quarters to keep the Cosmonauts out!
The Japanese researcher went home early in
Group 159
Four Russian cosmonauts and four volunteer team
members working in two separate chambers.
Psychological patterns and behaviours form in
isolation. To break these patterns, the two teams
are given the opportunity to visit each other. The
visits between them are monitored and then
analyzed. Each team has their own workload and
program to follow. They are to communicate in
English. (Pronina, 1999)
Pronina, (1999) states that the four
Russians shared a smaller, 100 cubic
metre chamber , they were in spent 240
days living there. They divide time up
equally between work, sleep and rest.
The Russian team were responsible for
studying their own psychological and
physiological effects.
The international volunteers were
only to stay 110 days (McShane,
2010). They had a 200 cubic metre
chamber and had a longer work
schedule, and concentrated on
emergency situations that may
occur in space (Pronina 1999).
Group 159
Extra, Extra: Rules Rule!
Should this experiment have been
observational only?
The Russian psychologists seemed to
think that all issues needed to be
dealt with internally, as that would
be the situation in space, hence;
minimal boundaries in place, even
when the international crew
requested outside intervention.
The international crew had to
experience fear and danger before
officials implemented a sensible
boundary by “cutting off interaction
with the Russians” (McShane, 2010).
This situation highlights the need for
non ambiguous rules.
Mars missions will mean extended isolation from the rest of
civilisation, in confined in such quarters as the Mir space station
(pictured above)
Integration of new members:
Merging Organisational cultures brings
challenges and potential difficulties. An issue
affecting the success of the experiment was
the integration of the various cultures.
Group 159
McShane (2010) discusses the styles of Integration that can
occur when different organisational cultures merge, and
suggests that the success of merging depends upon the style
chosen. The dominant culture can be imposed in the style of
Assimilation, or Deculturation, but this comes with
drawbacks and weaknesses.
Their different cultural background also
affected their experience of and expectations
of gender roles. This proved to have an effect
on the study, as seven participants were
male, and only one female.
Dominant culture is imposed
Discard personal and cultural values
Difficult to adopt
Cultural intrusions delay and undermine goals
High conflict, exit and termination
An alternative that can be successful, especially when
merging two strong and successful cultures is Integration.
The KISS itself was not the big problem, but is
a symptom of the lack of understanding on
successful integration between the teams
and individuals.
Merges cultures into a new composite culture
Ideal when several overlapping values
Retains best features of all cultures
Existing cultures can be improved
Less conflict due to merged values and expectations
The Russians had already been in the capsule
when the newcomers arrived, and found it
difficult to integrate. The researcher said "it
took them at least three weeks to feel
absolutely free when they appear in the room
of another crew. , that is all stressful but that is
not artificial that is real life like its real life in the
space station“ (McShane, 2010) Integration with
a new crew turned out to be extremely stressful
and challenging for many of the crew.
Group 159
Cultural and Gender Differences
affecting integration
The John Grey (1992) publication; Men are from Mars,
women are from Venus, highlights how gender
differences can be perceived as being worlds apart…
..The Russians said the kiss was just a
misunderstanding and that Lapierre was over reacting
to the incident. It became a case of he said/ she said.
Group 159
Judith Lapierre interview about gender roles
(click image to play)
(click image to play)
Females on the crew should:
Be a caring mother
Junior assistant
One that men would like to save
One men would bear children with
Be non equal
Bad if feminist.
SHE (Lapierre) SAID:
Expected Russians to have similar values to the men
from her culture.
She expected to be treated with respect
She expected to be treated as an individual with skills
and weakness, regardless of gender
Expected to be working with another female, as she
would in the "real world".
Was open to working with all male crew, (shared values
organisational assumption McShane 2010, pg 539 and
big- 5 agreeableness and openness to new experiences
Did not expect to feel unsafe.
Was this experiment a failure?
NO! Both teams learnt what not to do, and as a
result can improve the likelihood that space
missions may be more harmonious!
How could they have better prepared for
Prepare, and take time!
Awareness of each others culture, in regards
to gender roles, and work roles, BEFORE the
Identify values of each culture in the merger.
Identify expectations of each culture merging.
Group 159
Neither culture gives up their values, but both
cultures are improved.
Merging the best of each culture into a new
composite culture, and focusing each team
member on the new culture, its goals and
Integration, with hard work and dedication,
"it won't happen overnight, but it will happen"
The experiment wanted two small groups to work
together in long term isolation for 110 days, so they
could see what effect this would have on the crew
members involved.
Group 159
Volatility of cosmic proportions:
One team was made up of international Researchers,
all from different cultures, and had previously never
worked together. The other team of four Russian
cosmonauts had already been working together in
their chamber for 120 days, they had a reminder of
120 days when the second team joined them. These
teams had no prior team development, nor were they
provided any during the isolation. These two teams
were living in a chamber the size of a train car.
The two teams did not bond well together and one
month into the joint venture, the doors between the
Russian and international chamber were locked, at the
request of the international crew who feared for their
safety. They felt that violence within the Russian crew
and “the kiss” were not dealt with appropriately by
the external research team.
The IBMP Psychologist in charge of the project said
“If the crew can’t solve problems among
themselves, they can’t work together” Vadum
Gushin, McShane, S. O.(2010:615) Whilst the
expectation that the crew would solve their own
problems may be reasonable, they did not provide
any team development to help them overcome any
problems that arose.
Forming – During the forming stage crew members
want to be accepted by the others in their team. It
would have been this case in Mir Kiss’s Team as well.
As the team members had to live and work together
for 110 days, they needed to develop an effective
working relationship.
During the forming stage crew members would have
been forming impressions of each other and the
incidents of fighting and sexual harassment that
occurred would have hindered this process.
Some crew members would have been avoiding
conflict, while others were obviously past this stage
as they were getting into fist fights.
Storming – When the team should have been
moving into the storming stage where they would
put forward their ideas from one and other, they
instead, had to deal with the conflict that was taking
Group 159
Norming – During the norming stage crew
members would have all come together and
agreed to work collectively on the job at hand. This
would not have occurred as the team was not
functioning effectively.
Performing – During this stage teams would start
to perform together effectively. The Mir Kiss team
never reached this stage as they were separated
after one month. At this stage teams should be
working independently without conflict with other
Group 159
With all the international Researchers coming from different
countries there should have been a lot of work put into the
team’s cohesion as they all came from different cultural
backgrounds, it would have been hard to create one unified
Team norms – these are the informal rules and
expectations that different groups have and this is how the
team works together.
Norms are created at the beginning of teams forming.
Events during the beginning stages of a group can affect the
norms that are created in the group.
The fist fights and sexual harassment that occurred would
have created un-functional norms between the group.
Team cohesion – This is when teams feel connected to each
other, they feel they have a social identity, and create a
team identity.
Team trust – There are three different types of trust
Calculus – Based trust is based on the assumption that other team
members will act appropriately , this will be broken at the first issue
that arises.
Identification – based trust is based on the emotional connection
between team members, this would have been lacking within the
crew members as no team development was conducted, they joined
a team of four cosmonauts who had been in isolation together for
120 days with a group of three people from different cultural and life
experience backgrounds.
Knowledge - based trust is based on the behaviours of others within
the team. From the fist fight and sexual harassment episodes the
knowledge based trust would have disappeared from the crew
Face the future: pioneers for Mars
Group 159
Objectives of Future Experiments:
How individuals could cooperate together, how the
organisation could help them cooperate together, how to
reduce conflict and how do reduce stressful situations to
make the next Mir Kiss experiment work more effectively
the following training should take place:
Team building exercises before the team goes into
isolation and during isolation.
The first crew at a press conference before the start of the experiment. from left to
right: Habihožin Haider, Vladimir Karaštin, Vasyl Luk′ânûk, Anatoly Murašov
Team bonding activities – to help crew members
from different cultures bond together.
Conduct pre group work activities as part of the
selection process to ensure teams can work
together effectively.
Provide a trained facilitator to observe crew
members and their mental health.
Provide training so crew members can manage
Cultural, Age and Gender differences. Help them
identify how these could affect their particular group.
The second crew at a press conference before the start of the experiment.
from left to right: Norbert Kraft, Dmitry Sayenko, Judith Lapierre, Umeda Masataka
Group 159
Direction, control, accountability...What
constitutes a good leader?
A good leader works well in a team, can delegate
responsibilities and has values which align with that
of the organisation. (McShane, 2010, p. 224)
In the SFINCSS-99 Russian experiment the following
fundamental leadership issues were prevalent:
Organisers failed
to clearly communicate
expectations across all of the teams participating.
An Organisation needs clear positions and roles, the
volunteers of SFINCSS-99 operated in the absence
formally structured authority, “Shared leadership
flourishes in organisations where the formal leaders
are willing to delegate power” (McShane, 2010, p.
In lieu of structure, one person who ranks as a
Russian commander informally imposed his own
ideals (violence and desires) upon colleagues, much
to their dismay.
Group 159
When behaviour of only a few of the participants
began to cause others to feel unsafe, Umeda
Masataka (Japan) stated his concerns and then
withdrew (voiced than exit: EVLN model, McShane,
2010) when it became apparent the powers that be
were unlikely to act appropriately. Umeda was then
replaced by another Russian for the remainder of the
experiment as the Russian officials felt the problem
was due to culture clashes.
Baranov (IBMP official) stated that the volunteers
“health and safety will be of prime importance
aboard the new space station” (Pronina, 1999) yet
officials allowed and provided for unmonitored
alcohol consumption and then did not initially
intervene when physical violence was observable, or
when harassment was reported.
“Integrity involves truthfulness and consistency of
words and actions” (McShane, 2010, p. 459
“Shared leadership also calls for a collaborative
rather than an internally competitive culture”
(McShane, 2010, p. 247)
For effective leadership “Good communication
skills are important” (McShane, 2010, p. 224)
The language barrier can cause difficulties
communicating in a multicultural setting, not all
participants were very fluent in English, which was
to be a default language for communication, this
issue should be given greater consideration for
future exercises of this nature.
Group 159
Participants and organizers expectations should be
clear, upfront and understood by all involved,
“negative evaluations may go to leaders who
deviate from those expectations” (McShane, 2010,
p. 476), which is how the Russian Psychologists
were eventually perceived.
Lack of sensitivity towards all the cultures and
genders involved meant that the wider
communities of these people took a dim view
towards the leaders of this project.
Stating that the “kissing incident was tolerable
compared to this response from the Russian
scientists” (McShane, 2010)
“Effective leaders also provide the information,
support and other resources necessary” (McShane,
2010, p. 461), when organisers were again
confronted after the experiment was completed;
they were offended by how they were publicly
portrayed and blamed misunderstanding, Lapierre's
reaction and cultural differences .
Not intervening appropriately and subsequently
not supporting affected personnel are leadership
flaws which subjected this experiment to global
criticism and unnecessarily discredited several of
those associated with it.
Lapierre was forced to personally defend her own
reactions as being reasonable and not “too
emotional” (McShane, 2010)
Improvements in communication, structure,
integrity and accountability should benefit those
who will actually experience space isolation,
maybe even on mars.
A number of events occurred during the ‘Mir
Kiss’ experiment that highlight the need for
effective staff support mechanisms.
In chronological order the significant events
Two Cosmonauts fought with one another
to the point where:
The walls became blood splattered.
A colleague felt it prudent to hide all
the knives for fear of escalating
Group 159
The Russian commander grabbed the
female researcher, dragged her out of
sight of the cameras and kissed her,
aggressively, twice. After being rejected
he tried to kiss her again the next
The international research team
requested that the doors between their
chambers and the Russian cosmonaut
chambers be barred.
As a result of these events the
international research crew complained
to IBMP about the behaviour of the
Response and analysis
The response of the Russian Institute to the
complaint was, apparently, to take no action.
As we have seen in Team Development, their view
was that the incidents were part of the experiment
and they wanted crew members to solve their
personal problems with mature discussion.
This response gives rise to a question of
“How would the Russian Institute have reacted if
there had been a critical failure in the oxygen
supply system in the experimental chambers, to
the point where the lives of the crew (international
researchers and cosmonauts) were threatened?”
Group 159
Would they:
A) Have let the crew work it out form themselves and, if
they had failed to find a solution, let them die, on the basis
that ‘Mir is an autonomous object, far away from anything’
B) Intervene in the overriding interests of the health and
safety of the crew and on the basis of their duty of care?
Whilst the question remains rhetorical, we hope that the
answer would not have been A), for two reasons:
Firstly, it would be inhumane, immoral and illegal (in any
conscionable jurisdiction) to allow this to occur, even in the
pursuit of science and
Secondly and more simply, as evidenced by the reaction of
the international researchers to the lack of response from
the Russian Institute, ‘If we had known …we would not have
joined it as subjects’.
From this last statement we can start to draw the conclusion
that the international researchers had a not unreasonable
expectation that their participation in the experiment
(organisation) will be underpinned by the basic duty of care
that an employer owes to employees, including the prevention
of harm; both physical and psychological and support
mechanisms, including procedural justice, to resolve issues in
the workplace.
A balanced perspective
The international researchers came from: Austria,
Canada and Japan. It is possible that their
background experiences of working in their
respective countries led them to have expectations
in regard to their basic employment protections that
were outside the norm in Russia. The international
researchers believed that if they raised a genuine
and valid concern with the organisational hierarchy
in relation to their physical safety, they would be
taken seriously and the issues would be taken up and
dealt with.
It is possible that the Russians reacted in the way
that they did because in their experiences and the
prevailing employment construct, such issues,
regardless of whether they are the subject of a
formal complaint, or not, are simply not taken up
and dealt with by the organisation hierarchy, or
those in positions of authority.
Notwithstanding the Russian perspective, for the
purposes of promoting sound organisational
practices, let us look at the potential reactions of the
international researchers to the incidents that
occurred and the following of lack of response to
their complaints:
Group 159
Potential reactions:
Fear for personal safety in the workplace
Loss of confidence in Management to respond to
and deal with issues
Confusion about the attitude of Management to
workplace violence and sexual assault
Feelings of intimidation
Anger towards co-workers, Management and the
Loss of self-confidence
Confusion over what is right and what is wrong in
the workplace
These are just some of the potential reactions that
the international researchers could have experienced
as a result of the way they were treated by the
Russian Institute.
An alternative path
It is hypothesised that if the Russian Institute had
adopted some simple, but well proven steps to
dealing with the issues highlighted above, they could
have prevented the eventual breakdown of the
experiment and the acrimonious exchanges that
ensued in the public domain.
Proscribe and apply a discipline policy. If two
employees come to blows in the workplace, it should
be dealt with as soon as practicable by Management.
By intervening, breaking up the fight and separating
the employees, Management would have gone some
way to reassuring the other employees that they
retained an element of control and order (this would
be somewhat diminished by the common knowledge
that Management had supplied the alcohol that
fuelled the fight in the first place).
Group 159
Implement a grievance procedure. When the
international researchers initiated a formal complaint
they had an expectation that it would receive proper
consideration. A well understood grievance
procedure would ensure that all parties understood
the process for dealing with a formal complaint and
that, regardless of the merits of the complaint, their
rights would be protected and that procedural justice
would be applied.
Provide counselling, or an Employee Assistance
Program (EAP). Where employees have witnessed
violence in the workplace and/or been sexually
assaulted it is often more beneficial to the employees
concerned to provide independent, professional
counselling to assist them, rather than have a
Manager try to deal with the employee’s issues. This
is because a) most Managers are not trained to
undertake counselling of distressed employees and b)
independent counselling allows the issues to be dealt
with on their own merits, without any fear of
overspill into other areas, such as future promotion
opportunities, which may occur if a Manager deals
directly with a distressed employee.
Group 159
An alternative path cont’d
Implement a conflict resolution model. Keeping
people isolated for long periods of time is
stressful. Given that this was a research
experiment it might have benefited both the
Russian Institute and the crew if they had a
chance to explore and learn, rather than just
endure. The implementation of a conflict
resolution model might have afforded the
participants the opportunity to explore and
resolve issues before they became toxic.
The above practices are often employed by
organisations that recognise the importance
of having staff support mechanisms in place
Provide mechanisms to deal with issues
before they become problems
Resolve issues that do become
problems in a well understood and
workable framework
Reinforce the psychological contract
between the organisation and its staff
Promote staff well being
Organisational Behaviour
We can see from the events that occurred on the MIR
experiment that without proper planning and
procedures and structures, things can go very wrong.
The IBMP was, for all intents and purposes, a technical
scientific experiment. Our investigative team: Group
159 did not look into the scientific aspects of the
experiment and it is plausible that these were set up
are in a very detailed, orderly and proper fashion.
Group 159 investigated the Organisational Behavioural
aspects of the MIR experiment and, as we have seen in
the preceding pages, what we found was clear lack of
sound organisational practice from ineffective
leadership to poor team development.
A focus on management of the experiment and the
welfare of the crews involved might have averted some
of the incidents that occurred and saved the experiment
from the humiliating public criticism that played out in
the international press once the experiment concluded.
Group 159
Perhaps the most obvious lesson from the MIR
is that effective and productive
organisational practice does not happen by chance.
It takes planning and application.
professionals can and will still get into situations in
organisations that can lead to serious consequences.
Sometimes they are deliberate acts, sometimes they
simply unfortunate misunderstandings.
Either way, if an organisation has in place the
processes and foundations designed to shape and
influence the organisational culture it desires and
provides the leadership, coaching, guidance and
support mechanisms for its staff, there is a much
stronger possibility that the sort of incidents that
occurred on the MIR experiment will either not
occur in the first place, or, if they do, will be resolved
quickly, calmly and to the satisfaction of all involved
and allow the normal functioning of the organisation
to continue as intended.
This has been a Group 159 special investigation.
BIGGER BROTHER.mov . (2011, June 14). Retrieved July
2011, from YouTube:
Grey, J. (1992). Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.
New York, New York, US: HarperCollins.
McShane, S. O. (2010). Organisational Behaviour on the
Pacific Rim (3rd ed.). North Ryde, NSW, Australia:
McGraw Hill Australia Pty Ltd.
Pronina, L. (1999). Russian isolation experiment furthers
space cooperation. The Russian Journal (6).
Pictures References (in order of appearance):
Cosmonauts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np_oB2kNv-E
Flags: http://www.flags.net/
Simulator diagram:
Mir Space Station: http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/mir.gif
Man/Women scales:
Men are from Mars women are from Venus:
He said she said:
Pantene Pro-V: http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile-aksnc4/50552_113918951953724_3395_n.jpg
Space sunrise: http://images.sixrevisions.com/2009/07/2820_sunrise_in_space.jpg
Team work:
Trust hands: http://www.clarionenterprises.com/blog/wpcontent/uploads/Trust-Hands-275x182.jpg
Russian Cosmonauts:
International volunteers:
Sign post: http://preview.canstockphoto.com/canstock5269643.png
People building a puzzle: http://www.vallester.com/blog/wpcontent/uploads/2009/05/team.jpg
Fight silhouettes:
Space man:
See, speak, and hear no evil monkeys:
PowerPoint template courtesy of: www.presentationmagazine.com

159_FINAL - PSY130SP2Group159