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Inside NASA: High Technology and Organizational Change in the U.S. Space Program
     

Inside NASA: High Technology and Organizational Change in the U.S. Space Program

by Howard E. McCurdy
 

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Inside NASA explores how an agency praised for its planetary probes and expeditions to the moon became notorious for the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and a series of other malfunctions. Using archival evidence as well as in-depth interviews with space agency officials, Howard McCurdy investigates the relationship between the performance

Overview

Inside NASA explores how an agency praised for its planetary probes and expeditions to the moon became notorious for the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and a series of other malfunctions. Using archival evidence as well as in-depth interviews with space agency officials, Howard McCurdy investigates the relationship between the performance of the American space program and NASA's organizational culture. He begins by identifying the beliefs, norms, and practices that guided NASA's early successes. Originally, the agency was dominated by the strong technical culture rooted in the research-and-development organizations from which NASA was formed. To launch the expeditions to the moon, McCurdy explains, this technical culture was linked to an organizational structure borrowed from the Air Force ballistic-missile program. Changes imposed to accomplish the lunar landing—along with the normal aging process and increased bureaucracy in the government as a whole—gradually eroded NASA's original culture and reduced its technical strength.

Editorial Reviews

Nature

McCurdy is surely on the right track. His valuable book makes the literature on organizational cultures accessible and reveals new ways to look at high-technology agencies.

Booknews
Explores how an agency praised for its planetary probes and expeditions to the Moon became noted for the Challenger explosion and a series of other malfunctions. Using archival evidence as well as interviews with agency officials, the author investigates the relationship between the performance of the US space program and NASA's organizational culture. He concludes that, given the conditions of modern government, the performance of high-technology agencies like NASA inherently tends to decline. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801849756
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
09/01/1994
Series:
New Series in NASA History
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.54(d)

Meet the Author

Howard E. McCurdy is professor of public affairs at the American University. He is the author of The Space Station Decision: Incremental Politics and Technical Choice, also available from Johns Hopkins.

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