NASA When One Does Tend to Think Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2885 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Business - Management


When one does tend to think of the NASA space program, perhaps the thought of the proud 1969 Apollo Moon landing are conjured along with the success that NASA subsequently had with the Voyager spacecraft mission that has so far been on track with regard to the predicted trajectory of its mission (Broad, 1990). Therefore, what type of problem would the elite organization, an organization that assembles the most educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists, could these individuals have internally?

The history of NASA funding has always been of issue as the program receives its budget from the executive branch of the federal government (Broad, 1990). Therefore, NASA funding has been subject to cuts, at times extensive, for the federal government to divert funding to programs within departments such at the Department of Defense, that yield a more direct return to the military industrial complex that supports and protects its corporate backers.

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"As NASA pushes toward returning the shuttle fleet to space, some current and former employees are questioning how serious the space agency is about fixing the "broken safety culture" that investigators have said was a major cause of the loss of the Columbia and its crew two years ago." (Schwartz, 2005) Subsequent lack of funding has rendered cuts to the budget of NASA, which has developed into administrative cutbacks and subsequently the recruitment of talent that may not be capable of handling the arduous and complicated mathematical and scientific rigor that is requisite to many of the programs within NASA.

Term Paper on NASA When One Does Tend to Think Assignment

Fiscal cutbacks to NASA has ostensibly forced the hand of the human resources, as well as capital resources and technology which have seem to correlate with major catastrophes and critical mission miscalculations leading to damaged craft and delayed shuttle launches. "The shuttle Columbia, its countdown abruptly halted three times by technical problems, is now undergoing repairs to fix a new type of fuel leak that recently forced a flight postponement of 11 days." (Broad, 1990)

The technical issues ostensibly are stem from the fiscal cutbacks to the National Aeronautical and Space Administration's budget which caused the operating budget for these missions to be stretched in ways that would cause errors and miscalculations, most likely in the areas of materials science and the ability for chosen materials to handle certain stresses. Such stresses potentially include prolonged exposure to high heat and cold temperatures, and dramatic changes in pressure. "It's a workforce subject that has suddenly gotten deadly serious. Investigators seeking answers to the Columbia disaster say human resources issues may be at least partly to blame for the tragedy." (Shuit, 2003)

Statement of the Relevant Principles to be applied

The principles appertaining to the understanding and the functionality of NASA are broad and dynamic in that human resources must facilitate internal training programs to ensure that proper training to the level of ability show in past NASA employees. Additionally, a thorough and rigorous six sigma program should be instituted at NASA as process control and the limitation of variation is extremely important when considering the very limited range of acceptability regarding the variance of the successful operation in comparison to the unsuccessful.

Therefore critical areas include; Strategy and Management, Organizational Management, Institutional Innovation, Human Resources Management, Change Leadership and Planning Processes, and Applied Strategy. Inclusively, these areas of managerial function incorporate a top down management of human and capital resources linked by information and other forms of technology.

Program and Project Management are critical to identifying the most urgent and important programs that should undergo funding given the budget constraint NASA faces each year. Often, NASA must choose between research expeditions and surveillance missions where the benefit to human kind is more innate and intangible than capitalists are accustomed. NASA is seen as an effort of excess, that is, the federal government had generated a large enough tax base to fund programs that enable the exploration of space.

NASA is a publicly funded program, as tax payer dollars enable the development of the NASA program. Henry Mitzberg is a pioneer in the area of strategy and management and therefore his ideas are applicable to the renovation of NASA. "Even though anybody in the organization can come up with new strategic ideas (and everybody should be encouraged to do so), it is the responsibility of top management to make the final choices. There have been many calls lately to make the process of strategy development democratic and flexible to bring everybody in the organization into the process. The thinking here is that the odds of conceiving truly innovative ideas are increased if thousands of people, rather than just five or ten senior managers, put their minds to work." (McCarthy, Markides, 2000)

Additionally, Mitzberg addresses public policy as a function of applied strategy that is necessary to guide political systems. NASA is guided by a political system, there is no question. "Mitzberg argues that organizations display eight structural configurations and corresponding coordinating mechanisms. Such structural configurations are shaped by a variety of contingency factors, especially power and environmental ones. Using Mintzberg's work, eight policy modes, corresponding to structural configurations within government organizations and political systems, are identified and placed on a matrix that comprises two dimensions: standardization and centralization." (Matheson, 2009)

The standardization within NASA has always been the process of mechanical and administrative planning to yield a framework that can be replicated, ostensibly possessing internal and external validity. However, standardization would have eliminated problems inherent to the processes of the internal and external operations of NASA and therefore many of the issues with respect to human resources inefficiencies at NASA and the operational disasters should not have occurred.

Max Weber has contributed greatly to the area of organizational management and has participated in identifying trends within economics and strategy. "Three approaches are dominant in contemporary research on the economics of strategy. These are (1) the industry analysis approach associated with Michael Porter, (2) approaches based on the new industrial organization and game-theoretic reasoning, and (3) the resources-based view. In 1980s, a 'strong wind from economies' (Mintzberg, 1994) buffeted the strategic management discipline, represented by the publication of Porter's Competitive Strategy (Porter, 1980). The neglect of the resource and capability side of firms was the major weakness of Porter's analysis." (Fu-Lai Yu, 2003)

The principle of institutional innovation as a function of management and leadership is described by the renowned management scholar, Peter Drucker. "Peter Drucker often said there are no facts about the future, which begs the question, "How does an organization manage it?." In Managing in Turbulent Times, Drucker argues that given the certainty of a turbulent future, the most important task for management in such times is organizational survival (Drucker, 1980). While the task is daunting, Drucker left a legacy that provides guidance about how to manage the future; a legacy grounded in the concept of institutional innovation." (Wallman, 2010)

Further analysis by Drucker identifies the concept of institutional management. "In 1954, Drucker invented the concept of institutional management, combining the management of the organization and the management of the institutional processes used by the organization. Similarly, institutional management strategy is defined as the organizational processes and belief systems used to achieve strategic goals (Steidlmeier, 1993)." (Wallman, 2010)

Analysis and Application of Principles

The NASA space program has been subject to cost reduction as a function of its budget as approved by the executive branch of the federal government. The demand to maintain and improve on the current level of quality and successes of the program's past has caused NASA to make lofty promises that may not be entirely out of the realm of possibility if the right process control and management of program activity is in place.

Using Drucker's Institutional Innovation is requisite to have a budget that can enable the development of internal processes necessary to facilitate innovation. Given the increase in the budgetary constraint with regard to hiring new employees and retaining skilled employees due to the high cost of retirement packages and the level of salary associated with senior pay structures, the organization saw it mandatory to offer buyout packages to the senior employees and to reduce the salary of the entry level staff and management. Such cutbacks have caused the most appropriate human talent to seek employment at rival departments such as the Department of Defense, or to enter into private contracting to the federal government or work with private organizations.

Reviewing Max Weber's Organizational Management theories, the culture of the organization has been reported as in major need of reintegration into a holistic and supportive collective that is symbiotic in its approach to one another and to its affiliation to the organization. The focus on safety and on the importance of safety throughout the process of administration and development appeared to be no longer a primary objective in the daily operations of the staff.

Specifically, "An organization's safety culture is defined as the shared values, beliefs, assumptions, and norms that may govern organizational decision-making, as well as individual and group… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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