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United 93 and Kitty Genovese: Courage in the Workplace

The courageous actions of passengers on the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11 flew in the face of a long-standing contention in social science circles that people won’t put themselves in danger to right a wrong, e.g., the famous Kitty Genovese case.

This fact prompted Monica Worline, a professor of organizational behavior at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and a colleague to find out what was different about this incident.

The result of their lengthy research is a new paper entitled “Capabilities for Organizing Courage: The Story of United Airlines Flight 93.”

It is the first academic study to examine the group behavior dynamics aboard the plane on that fateful morning. The chief finding?

 “People do things in conversations with others that create psychological resources that allow them to act in difficult situations.”

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