- Series: New Series in NASA History
- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (September 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801849756
- ISBN-13: 978-0801849756
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,310,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Inside NASA: High Technology and Organizational Change in the U.S. Space Program (New Series in NASA History) Paperback – September 1, 1994
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"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."(Nature)
From the Back Cover
'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 malfuncations. 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.
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This is not a light or casual read. This book is intended as a serious study of management operation and evolution. Suitable to people studying a course in management it is not something you would choose to read in bed.
This work takes as its core mission the identification and tracing of the evolution of the organizational culture of NASA from its founding and expansion during the Apollo era through the changes in the 1970s and 1980s. Although sponsored by NASA, this book is far from being court history. It analyzes the reasons for what the author calls the "decline of NASA's technical culture" in the post-Apollo era, shedding new light on the agency's overall difficulties in recent years. Because of the book's provocative thesis and use by NASA management as a means of better understanding the agency, it received the Henry Adams Prize awarded by the Society for History in the Federal Government for the best interpretive history sponsored by a federal agency. In addition, since the publication of "Inside NASA" McCurdy has been asked to testify numerous times before various congressional committees concerned with NASA oversight about the agency's organizational culture and his expertise has been tapped by the agency to help reform its bureaucracy. This was especially true in the aftermath of the "Columbia" accident in 2003 when McCurdy served as a consultant to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB). His expertise in organizational culture was present throughout the report as the CAIB found considerable fault with the agency's approach to doing business ensconced in its institutional culture.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that Howard McCurdy and I are close friends and we have worked together on several historical projects over the years. I do not believe my friendship with him, however, changes the assessment of this important book, one which has found a central place in the historiography of NASA and spaceflight since its publication more than a decade ago.
people who could when the spending cuts of the 70's came,
held on to their jobs. Some of them have moved up and haven't retired yet.
So it is an agency that hasn't really renewed itself over the years.
The 60's bunch are mostly too old to be much good anymore ( I hate to say
that but it seems true).
The only way you can get anything useful out of a government agency
is to start fresh?
As you get older you see that there is no reformation or revolution
built into human organizations
and the result is usually they get worse as they get older.
War, revolution and depression seem to be built in
to counter that kind of trend.
Corporate shake-ups are the free enterprise version
that makes corporate structure a little better:
but looking at Ford and GM, you have to say it doesn't work well long term either?
The original idea for a space station and a shuttle
was a means to planetary exploration.
All the ideals of early NASA seem gone
and you are left with an empty structure of government employees.