AN ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY OF THE LYNDON B. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER
THE FIRST TEN YEARS 1958 1967
Thomas G. Mancuso
B.A., Louisiana State University in New Orleans, 1965
M.P.A., University of Houston, 1970
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of Public Affairs of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Public Administration
Graduate School of Public Affairs
Copyright by Thomas George Mancuso
All Rights Reserved
This thesis for the Doctor of Public Administration
Thomas G. Mancuso
has been approved for the
of Public Affairs
Mancuso, Thomas George (D.P.A., Public Administration)
An Organizational History of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center:
The First Ten Years 1958-1967
Thesis directed by Professor Jay M. Shafritz
The the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) has achieved a
record of success that few organizations, public or private, can
match. JSC has accomplished these successes in a field so techno-
logically advanced that only two nations on earth can compete, the
U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. James E. Webb, NASA's Administrator from
1961-1968, has attributed NASA's success to its basic pattern of
organization. The objective of this study is to understand what
can be learned from the basic pattern of organization of the NASA
field installation primarily responsible for manned spacecraft
An understanding of NASA field installations is the key to
understanding the operation of the nation's space program, yet
there have been few systematic examinations of these organizations.
Administrative histories of NASA, to date, have concentrated on
Headquarters management of the total NASA organization. Program-
matic histories have focused on individual program management and
technological progress. This work, then, seeks to fill a substan-
tial void in the documentation of NASA and its reason for success.
The organization of JSC was studied over the 10-year
period (1958-1967) that saw the formation of a small, project-
oriented task group; the growth of that group into a large program
office; the expansion of that group's responsibilities from one to
The organization of JSC was studied over the 10-year
period (1958-1967) that saw the formation of a small, project-
oriented task group; the growth of that group into a large program
office; the expansion of that group's responsibilities from one to
three manned space flight programs; the establishment of the group
into an independent field installation; and the transition of the
Center from one program to another.
A review of the literature on organization structure, with
particular emphasis on research and development organizations, was
made to develop a series of questions which were utilized for eval-
uation purposes. Findings and implications about the JSC structure
and its development were established from this analysis. The main
conclusion drawn was that organization structure at JSC was as
dependent upon the managerial characteristics of JSC managers as it
was upon more traditional organizational design principles.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend
This study was accomplished through the efforts of many
individuals. The project between the University of Colorado and
the Johnson Space Center under which this study was performed was
made possible only through the leadership of the JSC Directors,
Dr. Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., and Mr. Gerald D. Griffin. Sincere
thanks are due to numerous people within the Johnson Space Center
who contributed their time and assistance. Specifically, I should
like to thank Mr. James L. Neal, Mr. Philip H. Whitbeck, and Mr.
William B. Kelly for their encouragement and support. Mrs. Iva
Scott deserves special recognition for her research and accumula-
tion of many valuable papers which would have otherwise been
I wish to express my appreciation to Dr. Jay Shafritz,
chairman of my committee, for his encouragement and assistance
during the preparation of the dissertation. Thanks are also
extended to other members of the committee, Dr. Edward Ezell and
Dr. John Buechner, for their guidance and efforts.
A special thanks belongs to Mrs. Bettye Solcher and Ms.
Latonya Lockett who typed the drafts and helped in many other ways.
Special plaudits go to Mrs. Mary Nooney for preparing the final
draft and providing other valuable assistance. My wife, Dianna,
and children, Tom and Anne, are also to be praised for their
understanding and patience.
I. INTRODUCTION.......................................... 1
Objectives of the Study............................. 1
Background of Johnson Space Center............... 4
Studies of NASA Administration and Organization. 6
Overview of the Study............................... 8
Findings of the Study.............................. 14
II. METHODOLOGY.......................................... 21
Research Procedure................................. 24
Library Research................................. 24
Interview Design................................. 27
Sample Group..................................... 29
Data Gathering and Content Analysis.............. 29
III. LITERATURE SEARCH.................................... 38
Importance of Structure to the Research and
Development Organization......................... 42
The Attempt to Define Organization Structure-----43
An Examination of Organization Theory,
Particularly as It Applies to Research
and Development................................ 48
Classical Management: A Model for R&D
Human Relations: A Critical Element for
Development Work................................. 55
Systems and Contingency Theory: The Nature
of R&D........................................... 60
Supportive Relationships as an R&D Tool......... 66
Technical Systems: A Determinate of R&D
Environmental Impacts on R&D Organizations........70
Other Factors Affecting R&D Structure............ 72
Informal Organizations: A Final Consideration
for Structure.................................... 74
Alternate Forms of Structure Available for R&D
IV. BACKGROUND OF SPACE TASK GROUP....................... 95
NACA Research...................................... 97
Space Flight Research............................100
Impact of Sputnik on NACA........................102
NACA Environment and Structure
Political Reaction to Sputnik......................107
Birth of Mercury Project and Space Task Group..110
V. GROWTH OF SPACE TASK GROUP...........................124
Establishment of an Organization Structure and
Development of Management Structure..............132
Incremental Changes to the Organization Structure.138
Establishing a Structure for Space Flight
STG Looks at Future Programs.....................147
The Questions of Location for the STG..............148
VI. THE SPACE TASK GROUP BECOMES THE LYNDON B. JOHNSON
Functions of the New Center........................160
Development of the Organization Structure..........166
Primary Organization Plan........................170
Alternate Organization Plan......................176
Selection of Organization Structure..............177
Composition of the Initial Organization Structure.179
The Center Finds a Permanent Home..................182
Development of JSC Structure.......................185
To What Degree Did the Designers of JSC Rely
on the Principles Developed by Classical
Were the Dysfunctional Aspects of the
Characteristics of Bureaucracy as Elaborated
by Weber Considered in the JSC Structure?.......186
To What Extent Did the Unique Requirements to
Insure Creativity and Ingenuity from
Scientists and Engineers Influence the
JSC Structure and Its Development?..............187
Did the JSC Organization Become More
Bureaucratic as It Grew?........................188
To What Extent Did JSC Rely Upon Existing
(19601 s) Organization Design?................189
VII. JSC ELEMENTS OUTSIDE OF HOUSTON......................197
Organization Philosophy as Applied to the
WSTF Function and Site Selection...................200
Establishment of John F. Kennedy Space Center......208
JSC Preflight Operations Division................213
Negotiations between JSC and KSC on the
Application of Literature Search Questions to
JSC's Offsite Organization.........................221
How Did JSC Insure that It Would Retain
Management Control Over Complex Structures
Was the JSC Organization Flexible as
Contemplated by Webb, Or Did JSC Utilize
Broader Based Means to Protect Its
VIII. STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN THE JSC ORGANIZATION FROM
1962 TO 1966.......................................231
Research and Development Becomes Engineering
Disbanding the Information and Control
Establishing the Medical Research and
The Kety Committee...............................250
Operational Considerations Become Paramount.....253
JSC Organization of Medical Science..............255
Establishing the Science and Applications
NASA and the Scientific Community................260
JSC Forms a Science-Oriented Unit................263
Impact of Apollo Spacecraft 012 Fire...............267
Adjustment to JSC/KSC Relationship...............271 .
Establishing the Reliability and Quality
Assurance Office.................................. 274
Application of, Literature Search Questions to
JSC's Structure Changes..........................277
Did the Development of JSC Follow the Pattern
of Organization Development Postulated by
Did JSC Follow the Model Contemplated by
Stinchcombe Regarding Organization Structure
Was the JSC Organization Flexible as
Contemplated by Webb, Or Did JSC Choose
Broader Based Means (as Contemplated by
Thompson) to Protect Its Technology?.............281
Were Project Offices Established on a Linking
Pin Concept Or a More Traditional Hierchical
System and, as JSC Was on the Leading Edge of
of Technology, Was It Also on the Leading Edge
of Organization Design?..........................282
IX. LESSONS AND IMPLICATIONS OF THE FIRST TEN YEARS.....294
Integrated Manned Spacecraft Development
Entrepreneurial ship Attitude Within a
Focus on Manned Space Flight Development...........303
Attention to Flight Safety.........................305
Trust of Subordinates..............................306
Summary of Management Style Characteristics........308
Characteristics of the Structure...................309 .
Confirmation of the Literature.....................313
JSC as a Sociotechnical System.....................315
Structure as the Integrator........................316
X. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS..............................323
Books and Articles........................................330
NASA Memoranda, Presentations, and Reports................343
1. INTERVIEWS CONDUCTED BY THE AUTHOR...................347
2. INTERVIEWS CONDUCTED BY ROBERT MERRIFIELD............349
3. ENABLING LEGISLATION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY
COMMITTEE FOR AERONAUTICS............................352
4. KEY MEMBERS OF ROBERT R. GILRUTH'S PILOTLESS
AIRCRAFT RESEARCH DIVISION AT WALLOPS ISLAND,
VIRGINIA, IN 1945....................................354
5. ROBERT R. GILRUTH'S MEMORANDUM ESTABLISHING THE
SPACE TASK GROUP.....................................356
6. INITIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS
AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION.............................359
7. SUMMARY OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SUPPORT OF
8. OFFICIAL NASA ANNOUNCEMENT OF REALIGNMENT OF MANNED
SPACE FLIGHT OPERATIONS AND KSC-MSC CAPE RELATION-
SHIPS, DECEMBER 24, 1964.............................364
9. JOHNSON SPACE CENTER PERSONNEL STRENGTH..............371
10. GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS............................373
1. Organization of NASA, 1983 3
2. Research Procedure 22
3. Socio-Technical Systems An Elementary
Framework for Diagnosing Human Behavior
in Organizations 63
4. Five Basic Parts of an Organization as
Depicted in a Mintzberg Logo 78
5. Areas of Primary Activity during Project Mercury 129
6. Initial Space Task Group Organization Structure 131
7. Typical Management Arrangement for Space Task
Group Activities 133
8. Management Arrangement Used to Procure,
Develop, and Prepare the Atlas Launch Vehicle
for Manned Flight 134
9. Management Arrangement Used to Establish the
Ground Tracking Organization 137
10. Space Task Group Organization September 15, 1959 140
11. Flight System Division Organization August 10,
12. Johnson Space Center Proposed Organization -
Primary Plan 173
13. Johnson Space Center Organization March 5, 1962 180
14. White Sands Test Facility Organization in 1962 206
15. ' Realignment of White Sands Test Facility
16. Johnson Space Center Organization August 2, 1962 214
17. Johnson Space Center Florida Operations in 1962 216
18. Johnson Space Center Organizational History 232
19. Johnson Space Center Organization - March 5, 1962 236
20. Johnson Space Center Organization - October 2,
21. Johnson Space Center Organization December 7,
22. Johnson Space Center Organization - May 4, 1966 259
23. Marshall Space Flight Center Prelaunch Checkout
Requirement Change Cycle 272
24. Johnson Space Center Prelaunch Checkout
Requirement Change Cycle 273
25. Johnson Space Center Organization December 23,
Objectives of the Study
The establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) launched the United States into the race for
space. Spurred by the success of the Soviet Union's Sputniks 1
and 2, NASA grew quickly by absorbing the facilities and personnel
of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and
Department of Defense rocket/space-oriented units. During its
first decade, NASA developed dozens of spacecraft which landed on
and surveyed the moon, revolutionized the communication industry,
explored the solar system, expanded our meteorological capability,
and in general vastly increased our knowledge about both Earth and
its environment. Yet, despite these successes in unmanned space
flight, the American public's (indeed, the world's) attention was
focused on the manned space flight programs--Mercury, which proved
man's ability to survive in outer space; Gemini, which demonstrated
his capability for carrying out complex tasks in outer space; and
Apollo, which landed him on the moon.
This overview of NASA's program illustrates the scope of
NASA's endeavors and the magnitude of its achievements. These
successes represent more than just the technological success which
dominates the public's concept of NASA. It required, as James
Webb, the Apollo era Administrator for NASA, stated, "management
requirements that went beyond proved capabilities of existing forms
and methods."^ One of the management capabilities which con-
tributed to NASA's major achievements, was, in Webb's eye, its
organization. The successes of NASA were possible, because there
existed a basic pattern of organization which harnessed the talents
of NASA personnel and directed these talents toward a common
goal. In order to achieve NASA's demanding objectives, Webb
... to maintain management initiatives and drive, we
deliberately employed fairly frequent organizational re-
structuring as an important element of our joint leader-
ship. Thus, one of the fundamental principles of the
management of NASA has been flexibility, both from the
standpoint of the3duties of individuals and of organiza-
The objective of this work is to understand what can be
learned from the basic pattern of organization of the NASA field
installation which was primarily responsible for manned spacecraft
development and flight, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in
Houston, Texas. The overall NASA organization currently employs
approximately 21,000 civil servants; this consists of a relatively
small Headquarters staff and eight field installations. This
organization is shown on Figure 1. NASA Headquarters is responsi-
ble for overall program management and interfacing with the
President, the Executive Offices, the Congress, foreign govern-
ments, and other organizations. Presently, NASA Headquarters has
a staff of approximately 1,100. The bulk of NASA personnel
reside at the field installations, which are responsible for
National Aeronautics and Space Administration Organization
conceiving, developing, and executing NASA programs. For this
reason, the field installations (also to be referred to as
Centers) have been described as "the key to an understanding of
the civilian space program."^ Thus, an examination of the Johnson
Space Center's organization should provide an insight regarding
the reasons for NASA's success.
Background of Johnson Space Center
The Johnson Space Center was initiated as the Space Task
Group (STG) in November 1958 to carry out the nation's first manned
space flight program, Mercury.^ The STG was at first comprised of
45 people from the Langley and Lewis Research Centers and was
located at the Langley Research Center. The STG grew in size and
responsibility very rapidly. By 1961, the STG had a staff of
greater than 700, and was given responsibility for the nation's
next two manned spacecraft, Gemini and Apollo. These added
responsibilities caused NASA to make the STG an independent field
installation. The STG acquired a new home, Houston, Texas, and a
new name, Manned Spacecraft Center (it was renamed after the death
of President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1973).
In its new location, the Johnson Space Center continued
to expand its staff in order to carry out its new responsibilities.
By 1967, two years before the first manned landing on the moon
(Apollo 11), JSC reached its peak staff of 4700. Since that time,
the Center's staff has eroded to its present size of 3380.
Despite its rapid personnel growth, JSC never had the staff
to completely carry out its responsibilities on its own. Indeed,
it never was envisioned that the JSC staff would do all of its own
work.^ Private industry was relied upon to perform the detailed
design, development, test and manufacture of the spacecraft, launch
vehicle, and associated systems. The Department of Defense
assisted JSC by providing the first corps of astronauts, support-
ing biomedical requirements, assisting in mission operations, and
performing spacecraft recoveries.^ Other U.S. Government and
foreign government agencies also provided specialized assistance .
The vast scope of the manned space flight endeavors was
something quite foreign to the initial STG staff. At Langley
and Lewis, these personnel had been primarily researchers, con-
ducting experiments in the laboratory and field to develop knowl-
edge about aircraft and their characteristics. This research was
normally performed in support of requirements generated by outside
organizations, such as the DOD or the aircraft industry. The
Mercury program caused these 45 men, and those who followed them,
to become managers, and to develop styles of management and organi-
zation necessary to accomplish unprecedented programs.
This study will trace the development of the JSC organi-
zation from its inception in 1958 and up to its peak staff in 1967.
These first ten years of JSC resulted in an organization structure
which served not only to contribute to the accomplishment of the
Center's objectives, but also allowed the Center to adapt to
changing programs and environments. The organization of JSC
today is not significantly different than it was in 1962, yet its
programs and key managers have all changed. Thus, by studying the
JSC organization during its first ten years, insight can be gained
regarding the fundamental principles of its structure.
James Webb often discussed organizational adaptability as
one of the key features in NASA's managerial success. Technology
advancements, technology failures, expansion of objectives, and
political variability were factors that characterized the early
years of NASA. Webb believed it was necessary for NASA "to prepare
for and organize to meet substantive and administrative conditions
that could not be foreseen"J6 JSC experienced a number of condi-
tions that tested its organizational meddle. The physical construe
tion of the Center under austere budget conditions, the tragedy of
the Apollo fire which took three astronauts' lives, and the develop
ment of a remote test site in New Mexico are examples of conditions
which stressed the JSC organization. An initial objective of this
study is to examine JSC adaptability; i.e., how it was able to
sustain itself, to operate within its organizational constraints,
and to achieve its objectives during its first decade.
Studies of NASA Administration and Organization
An administrative history of the Johnson Space Center is
essential to the understanding of the success of NASA and its pro-
gram. There currently exists only one published study of NASA's
administrative history. Dr. Robert Rosholt's An Administrative
History of NASA, 1958-1963 focused on five administrative themes
(organizational structure, administrative procedures, personnel,
finance, and procurement administration) at the Headquarters
level.^ There is little discussion of the administrative history
of JSC in his work. There are two unpublished NASA administrative
histories for the years 1963-1969. One edited by NASA historian
Dr. Eugene Emme, compiled at the request of Lyndon B. Johnson for
his Presidential library, attempted to set forth "the salient
aspects of NASA's history" by those who participated in that
history. The second, by Dr. Arnold Levine, concentrated on the
key decisions by two NASA Administrators (James Webb and Thomas
Paine) during that period. Neither of these works treats JSC as
anything more than one of many field installations. Thus, we can
learn little of JSC administrative history from these three works.
Likewise, the published histories of the nation's manned
space flight programs (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-
Soyuz) contain little on the operations of JSC. These studies
focused on the programs and program management decisions. There
is some insight given to the organizational environment wherein
these programs were conducted and the decisions generated, but
this insight is not substantial.
Similarly, histories of rocketry, space science, space
flight, etc., bear little reference to the JSC organization.
Such histories concentrate on events and the significance of these
events in technological progress. Scant attention is paid to the
management and organization actions that made technological prog-
This study then attempts to fill the current void in the
literature on NASA. By concentrating on the management and
organization of the JSC, a subject is researched on which little
has been published. This study was accomplished through interviews
with key JSC managers, review of published works on JSC and its
program, research into the JSC archives, and review of the litera-
ture on organization. A comprehensive discussion of the methodol-
ogy for the study is given in the next chapter. The balance of
this chapter is devoted toward giving the reader a capsule view of
the highlights of the study.
Overview of the Study
It was important to initiate this study with a survey of
the literature dealing with the organization of large scale proj-
ects, particularly those which are research and development in
nature. The problems encountered in organizing and administering
large complex technical projects are in many ways similar to the
problems encountered by managers of any large enterprise. But,
research and development (R&D) projects also "present very special
problems which, either in degree or kind, are different or
unique." The literature search focuses on the characteristics
and difficulties on establishing an organization structure, partic-
ularly those differences which appear to characterize the organiza-
tion of R&D. For example, a major problem affecting R&D projects
is achieving "cooperation between research laboratories, develop-
ment groups, and production departments." These and other
issues associated with R&D organizations as described in the
literature are highlighted so that we may have an understanding
of the complexity of the organization task of JSC. Such an under-
standing is a prerequisite toward examining the JSC organization
for only then can we appreciate the JSC organizational method.
With the literature search as background, the historical
underpinning of JSC will then be examined. JSC did not just spring
up from nowhere. The Center had its beginnings in a Government
research laboratory devoted to an understanding of the dynamics of
atmospheric fight, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics'
(NACA) Langley Aeronautical Laboratory (renamed Langley Research
Center in 1958) in Virginia. The NACA, established in 1914 to
direct the United States Government's study of aircraft flight,
"had become perhaps the world's foremost aeronautical research
organization." NACA was reorganized by President Eisenhower's
administration and Congress in 1958 in order to advance the
nation's endeavors in space flight. This reorganization produced
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (in lieu of
NACA), an executive agency which was to accomplish two objectives:
(1) to continue aeronautical research; and (2) to develop a new
space flight program. One of the major projects of the new
space flight program was to be manned Earth orbital flight; i.e.,
Mercury. Responsibility for the Mercury project was given to a
small group of research engineers at the Langley Research Center.
This group, named the Space Task Group (STG), had to learn how to
manage and organize the nation's manned space flight program as
well as to design and develop the spacecraft and its operation.
The STG began small (its initial staff consisted of 45
people) but grew very rapidly. It learned very quickly that it
must function as a project office; that is, manage and coordinate
the work and resources, rather than function as the doers of the
work. Their major responsibility was organization. The nation
had never accomplished a manned space flight program before, and
the elements required to conduct such a program were literally
spread throughout the world. The STG pulled together all of these
elements by means of contracts and other cooperative agreements
and organized its small internal staff to manage these world-wide
elements. With its small staff, the STG managed hundreds of
thousands of Department of Defense personnel, private industry
personnel, personnel from other NASA Centers, and other U.S.
Government agencies. All of these personnel were coordinated to
produce the successful Mercury program.
At the same time as the Mercury project was being organ-
ized, the STG was given responsibilities for two new manned space
flight programs, Gemini and Apollo. These new responsibilities
resulted in further growth of the STG and in evolution of the STG
to independent field installation status. Further, the STG
received a new location (Houston, Texas) and a new name (Manned
Spacecraft Center). The STG (hereinafter referred to as JSC) now
had to organize to accomplish three major projects (Mercury,
Gemini, and Apollo) to perform all its own administrative and tech-
nical support functions (previously Langley had performed most of
these functions), and to construct a new field installation. JSC
embarked upon a major internal study to determine the organi-
zation required to implement its assignments and embrace the
organizational philosophy of its managers. A key organizational
philosophy was that the Center should function as an integrated
system. This meant that neither one program nor one function
within a program would either dominate or be separate from the
rest of the Center. This policy was necessary (the Center's
managers believed) for two reasons: (1) the experience from one
program could be shared with other programs; and (2) the resources
of the Center could be shared among the programs, eliminating the
need for large, individual program offices. This policy, termed
the integrated Center concept, was initially designed into the
organization by having the Center Director function as the inte-
grator. Initially, this design was successful; but as the
Center's functions expanded to meet the demands of the Apollo
program, a slight adjustment was required.
Before this adjustment became necessary, however, the
Center's organization had to accommodate some functions which could
be not performed in Houston. There were two such functions: pre-
flight operation (prelaunch checkout and launch) at Cape Canaveral,
Florida, and propulsion and launch system tests in Las Cruces, New
Mexico. Both of these functions were essential to the integrated
Center concept, but overriding Agency interests necessitated the
spin-off of the preflight operations function from JSC. NASA
decided early in 1962 to gather together all of the NASA units
operating at Cape Canaveral into a single group which would operate
as an independent field installation (the installation was named
the John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 1963). The elimination
of the preflight operations functions from JSC caused concerns at
JSC regarding issues of flight safety and interaction between pre-
flight operations and other functions of the manned space flight
program. These concerns produced a very deliberate attitude
among JSC managers during negotiations with KSC for the transfer
of the affected functions. Only when the above issues were
resolved to JSC's satisfaction were the functions transferred to
The Las Cruces facility (White Sands Test Facility (WSTF))
presented a different organizational problem. Unlike JSC, WSTF
was not organized to be integrated by the local site manager; inte-
gration of WSTF activities was structured such that they could
occur only back at JSC. This design caused friction among the
WSTF managers. The organization had to be redesigned to designate
a senior WSTF manager with the authority to integrate the WSTF
functions and tasks.
From the period of the establishment of the JSC organiza-
tion after it became an independent field installation in 1962 to
1967, the organization experienced eight major changes. Three of
these changes were directly attributable to either completion/
evolution of the Center programs or to natural growth of a func-
tion. The remaining five changes were analyzed in the study be-
cause those changes demonstrated certain unique characteristics
about the JSC organization. For example, the largest JSC organi-
zation, the Engineering and Development (E&D) Directorate, was
reorganized to facilitate an integrated Center concept called sub-
system management. Subsystem management allowed hardware devel-
opment managers to be located within E&D and at the same time to
be responsible to program offices for schedule and resource issues.
Before subsystem management was implemented, integration of the
E&D work to the programs was accomplished through the Center
Director. Subsystem management permitted integration of the E&D
work at the program manager level, a change which contributed
greatly to the success of the Apollo program. The other four
changes demonstrated different characteristics of the JSC organiza-
tion: one change emphasized the Center's concern for sharing
limited resources in order to limit the size of functional and
program offices' staffs; two changes demonstrated the JSC relation-
ship with NASA Headquarters and outside special interest groups
and how these forces were meshed with the Center's interests; and
a final change demonstrated JSC's reaction to a major program
catastrophe, the Apollo fire at KSC which killed three astronauts.
In all of these changes, JSC adhered to its basic organizational
philosophy while adapting to current circumstances.
At the conclusion of the period under study (1967), the
JSC organization is considerably different than at the initiation
(1958). The organization that has evolved has accomplished two
manned space flight programs (Mercury and Gemini) and within two
years will send a man to the moon and return him safely. Impor-
tantly, the organization form still exists today.
Findings of the Study
The JSC structure was designed upon an integrated manned
spacecraft development facility (Center) concept. This concept
was intended to blend together the crucial development and opera-
tions functions to ensure that both functions had appropriate
influence throughout the complete life cycle of a program. This
unique facet of the JSC organization which, for example, permitted
an astronaut or other operations personnel to have input on the
design of flight systems, was a major factor in the Center's abil-
ity to meet the challenges of manned space flight development. The
JSC integrated Center concept was structured upon a strong internal
technical and management capability. JSC was able to coordinate
the activities of other organizations and exercise control over the
essential elements of its program because the Center possessed sig-
nificant technical capabilities of its own. These capabilities
existed because: JSC personnel had a background in aeronautical
research; the Center provided the means for its technical personnel
to maintain their competence; and the Center encouraged its person-
nel to understand all facets of the Center's technical expertise
to conceive, to manage the design development, and to perform
mission operations for the nation's manned space flight programs.
The primary factors influencing the JSC organizational
structure operated on two different planes or levels. The first
level consisted of characteristics of the general JSC management
style. These characteristics were: an entrepreneurial attitude; a
focus on manned space flight programs; the meticulous attention to
flight safety considerations; and a trust in subordinates. Com-
plimenting these management style characteristics were the charac-
teristics of the structure and its process of evolution. These
characteristics were: design of the structure at one or two
organizational levels at a time; the division of labor based upon
the work flow; the coordination of work by both liaison mechanisms
and more traditional bureaucratic means; and the existence of a
large amount of informal coordination.
The implications of these findings are threefold: First,
the JSC organization structure and its development confirm a great
deal of the literature on organization structure. Most noteworthy
are the strong relationships between JSC organization and: (1)
Daniel Katz and Robert Kahn's theory of the development of organi-
zations; (2) Arthur Stinchcombe's theory of the correlation
between age and structure; and (3) Henry Mintzberg's description
of an "Administrative Adhocracy." Second, JSC exists as a true
sociotechnical organization that, although technical concerns pre-
dominate within the organization, the system also reflects the
feelings, needs, and relationships of the members. Third, the JSC
organization structure may be described as a triangular system
consisting of people, processes, and their interrelationships. As
the function of structure at JSC is to integrate these elements,
the characteristics of each has influenced the structure.
The bottom line of the JSC organization is that the
structure has remained stable since its initiation in 1962 as an
independent field installation. The integrated Center concept has
tended to satisfy the requirements of the Center's programs and
the needs of its managers. Further, we can expect the structure
to remain stable until those factors which created the structure;
i.e., people, processes, and/or interrelationships change.
The objective of this study is to research the basic pat-
tern of the JSC organization; it was this basic pattern which has
been credited by a NASA Administrator and organization researchers
toward helping NASA accomplish its objectives. The purpose of the
chapter has been to give the reader an understanding of the ration-
ale for the study and an overview of how the study was conducted.
Chapter 2 will discuss the study methodology and the organization
of subsequent chapters. Further, the next chapter will establish
the roadmap for the dissertation by outlining the purpose and
direction of subsequent chapters.
^Janies E. Webb, Space Age Management, The Large Scale
Approach (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969), p. 5.
Ibid., p. 8. Also interview with James Elms.
James E. Webb, "Preface" to (ed.) "Preliminary History
of NASA, 1963-1969," edited by E. E. Emme (unpublished manu-
script, final edition, NASA History Office, January 15, 1969),
Library of Congress Report, United States Civilian
Space Programs, 1958-1978, prepared for House Committee on Science
and Technology, 97th Congress, Volume I (Washington, D.C.: GPO,
1981), pp. 57-60.
Information provided by Dianna Mancuso of JSC Personnel
^Arnold S. Levine, "An Administrative History of NASA,
1963-1969" (unpublished manuscript, Corranent Edition, NASA History
Office, August 23, 1977), p. 18.
^Frank W. Anderson, Jr., Orders of Magnitude. A History
of NACA and NASA. 1915-1980, SP-4403 (Washington, D.C.: GPO,
1981), p. 20.
Interview with George M. Low.
^Appendix 9 details the size of the JSC staff from 1958
^Interview with Robert R. Gilruth.
^Appendix 7 illustrates the support from the Department
of Defense for the conduct of the Mercury project. The estimated
cost for this support exceeded 100 million dollars.
Anderson, Orders of Magnitude, A History of NACA and
NASA. 1915-1980, pp. 22-23.
L. S. Swenson, J. M. Greenwood, and C. C. Alexander,
This New Ocean. A History of Project Mercury, SP-4201,
(Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1966), pp. 55-56.
Sayles and Chandler maintain that mission-oriented
organizations (like JSC) are "designed to cope with and endless
series of unpredictable problems." Such an orientation allows the
organization structure to endure as it is able to withstand both
internal and external pressures. Leonard R. Sayles and Margaret K.
Chandler, Managing Large Systems. Organizations for the Future
(New York: Harper & Row, 1971), pp. 179-180.
Webb, Space Age Management, The Large Scale Approach,
16Ibid., p. 6.
^Robert L. Rosholt, An Administrative History of NASA,
1958-63, SP-4101 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1966), p. 9.
^8Emme, "A Preliminary History of NASA, 1963-1969."
^Levine, "An Administrative History of NASA, 1963-1969."
The more comprehensive histories of NASA's programs
are those sponsored by the NASA History Office. These works
On Mercury L. S. Swenson, J. M. Grimwood, and C. C.
Alexander, This New Ocean. A History of Project
Mercury, SP-4201 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1966);
On Gemini B. C. Hacker and J. M. Grimwood, On The Shoulders
of Titans. A History of Project Gemini, SP-4203
(Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1977);
On Apollo C. G. Brooks, J. M. Grimwood, L. S. Swenson,
Chariots for Apollo. A History of Manned Lunar
Spacecraft SP-4205 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1979);
On Apollo C. D. Benson and W. B. Faherty, Moonport. A
History of Apollo Launch Facilities and
Operations, SP-4204 (Washington, D.C.: GPO,
R. E. Bilstein, Stages to Saturn. A Technological
History of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles,
SP-4206 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1980);
On Apollo-Soyuz E. C. Ezell and C. N. Ezell, The
Partnership. A History of the Apollo-Soyuz
Test Project, SP-4209 (Washington, D.C.: GPO,
On planetary programs H. E. Newell, Beyond The Atmosphere,
SP-4211 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1980).
Among the more authoritative, exhaustive historical
works on rockets and space travel are:
Werner von Braun and F. I. Ordway, History of Rocketry and
Space Travel. 3rd ed. (New York: Crowell, 1975);
Willy Ley, Rockets, Missiles and Men in Space (New York:
Viking Press, 1968). Originally published in 1944, the book has
undergone several major revisions;
Library of Congress report, United States Civilian Space
Programs, 1958-1978, prepared for House committee on Science
and Technology, 97th Congress (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1981).
Charles D. Orth, Joseph C. Bailey, and Francis W.
Wolek, Administering Research and Development (Homewood, IL:
Richard D. Irwin and Dorsey Press, 1964), p.10.
23Ibid. p. 12.
S. S. Swenson, J. M.Grimwood, and C. C. Alexander,
This New Ocean. A History of Project Mercury (Washington, D.C.:
GPO, 1966), p. 55.
Anderson, Orders of Magnitude, A History of NACA and
NASA, 1915-1980, p. 17.
^Interview with Maxime A. Faget.
^Interview with R. R. Gilruth.
Interview with G. M. Low.
Interview with Wesley L. Hjornevik.
Interview with R. R. Gilruth.
Interview with Charles F. Bingman.
George Low and Philip Whitbeck memorandum "Memorandum
of Agreement. MSC-KSC Relations," 11/26/64.
Interview with C. F. Bingman.
Interview with Joseph P. Loftus, Jr.
Interview with G. M. Low.
Interview with Christopher C. Kraft.
Daniel Katz and Robert L. Kahn, The Social Psychology
of Organizations (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1966), pp. 77-82.
Arthur L. Stinchcombe, "Social Structure and
Organizations," in dames March (ed.) Handbook of Organizations
(Chicago: Rand McNally, 1965).
Henry Mintzberg, The Structuring of Organizations. A
Synthesis of the Research (Enqlewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,
1979), pp. 438.
Joseph A. Litterer, The Analysis of Organizations (New
York: John Wiley & Sons, 1973). Litterer conceives organizations
as having three basic inputs: engineering knowledge of how a
thing can be done, knowledge of the structure and processes to
guide workers, and the members of the organization. These inputs
are then transformed into outputs which the organization transfers
to society. The functions created to perform this transformation
and transfer functions require, to Litterer, that the organization
become a social instrument, pp. 23-36.
An overview of the research procedure to accomplish the
objectives of this study is shown in Figure 2. The first phase
(library research) consisted of reviewing written sources of
information on the subject. These written sources fell into three
categories: histories of the National Advisory Committee on
Aeronautics (NACA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) organizations and major programs, including some unpublished
NASA sponsored histories; primary NASA documentation, such as
internal memoranda, reports, and presentations; and literature on
organization structure, including the organization for management
of R&D programs. The library research activity resulted in the
identification of the major organizational events affecting JSC and
the outcome of those events. To fully understand these events, in
terms of their significance, the underlying issues and the decision-
making rationales, it was necessary to interview key managers.
These interviews were used to help reconstruct events as they
occurred in the minds of the key decision makers. In some cases,
follow-up interviews were conducted in order to correlate interview,
responses. A basic methodological rule was adopted early in the
study that no interview information would be used unless it was
0 Analysis of
0 Analysis of Agency
0 Organizing of JSC
0 Critical Issues
0 Literature search on
RAD Organization' and
0 Question Development
0 Key JSC managers
0 Responses to
0 Key NASA Hqs.
0 Reflections on
0 Follov-up data
0 Agency background 0 Forces affecting
0 Establishment of 0 Relationship to
major programs literature
0 Organization 0 Implications of
structure Issues findings
0 Functions of the
0 Pressures on the
0 Answers to questions
0 Lessons learned
0 Impact for future
verifiable through a second interview or through published docu-
ments. For this reason, some follow-up was necessary to verify
The collected information was then structured for
analysis by major historical events or similar activities. This
structuring resulted in five major units, each of which begins a
chapter in this dissertation: background of the STG; growth of
the STG; evolution to independent center status; offsite func-
tions; and structural changes in the Center's organization.
The analysis of these units focused on characteristics of the
major issues and events and the relationship among these
Finally, some conclusions were drawn. Three sets of
conclusions evolved. The first set identified certain traits
which would be useful in understanding JSC's organizational
history. The second set established relationships between the
JSC organization and its development and theories of organiza-
tions and development. The third set discussed the implications
of the first two sets for the future of the JSC organization.
The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the study
methodology in order to allow the reader an understanding of
the organization of the paper. The next chapter will contain
the results of the literature search on organization development
An understanding of JSC requires an understanding of the
history, environment, and culture of what is commonly referred to
as the world of aerospace. The purpose of the library research was
to organize data about the past in order to analyze JSC's
administrative history. Research is only meaningful if it presents
a pattern; that is, it permits a meaning to be attached to a group
of otherwise disconnected factors. This pattern must, in order to
be successful, "correspond to the mass of evidence," and "offer a
graspable design to the reader."1 The research activity was
designed to collect and organize data to enable understanding and
analysis of the JSC organization.
The exploits of NASA and its predecessor, NACA, have been,
as earlier mentioned, the subject of numerous project and adminis-
trative histories. Program and technological histories of each
manned space flight program have been published under the auspices
of the NASA History Office. These NASA histories including Arnold
Levine's recently published Managing NASA in the Apollo Era were
made available for this study through the JSC History Office. The
histories were reviewed to recreate the technological, political,
and administrative setting into which JSC was formed.
Each major NASA center has available within its technical
and management library a computer-based index system called RECON.
This system lists all reports and publications prepared by NASA
Headquarters, the field centers, and contractors. In order to
ensure review of all NASA- and NACA-published documentation perti-
nent to this study, the RECON System was used. This system
produced several NASA studies of administration and program manage-
ment which had not been otherwise available.
The next step was to gather information on the JSC organi-
zation as recorded through NASA and JSC internal documents. The
reliability requirements of manned space flight and its associated
focus on quality control and traceability, has resulted in a vast
accumulation of documents at JSC. Arnold Levine has stated that
at NASA, one is "left with a residue of documentation which serves
to shape agency policy before it hardens into definite programs,
enunciate that policy once it has been ratified, and record those
problem areas which come to the attention of general management."
This documentation is found in several places. The most comprehen-
sive collection for purposes of this study is managed by the JSC
History Office. This office exists under the auspices of the
Management Analysis Office whose functional responsibilities also
include performing organizational analyses; methods and procedures
reviews; developing management systems; analyzing necessity for
organizational changes; coordinating management directives and
issuances; and accomplishing special studies for Center management.
These two offices, Management Analysis and History, had available
an extensive body of information on the subject of this study and
allowed the writer unlimited access to this information.
These records, however, are sometimes not sufficient to
fully understand certain issues. Records often do not give the
background or the critical elements at play in the issue at hand.
Such information may be available through the personal records of
the key decision makers. Records of this nature are usually diffi-
cult, if not impossible, to obtain because they are often destroyed
or thrown away when the key characters retire or otherwise leave
the agency or installation. Fortunately the records of one of the
architects of the JSC organization have been preserved and were
available for examination on a confidential basis. These records
were useful in verifying or confirming information available from
Additionally, speeches and articles prepared by the JSC
Director during the time frame of this study (Robert R. Gilruth)
have been preserved and were made available for the study. A
number of these presentations address the issues involved in this
study. These documents were extremely useful in understanding the
relationship of these managers toward the JSC organization and
administrative functions. Further, analysis of these documents and
other documents permitted the tailoring of questions for the subse-
quent interviews with these individuals.
Among other particularly useful documents were a series of
interviews of NASA managers, primarily JSC but also including sev-
eral senior Headquarters officials, conducted by a JSC employee,
Robert Merrifield, during the late 1960's. Merrifield interviewed
over 40 managers in attempting to write a history of the construc-
tion of JSC's facilities. The Merrifield work was not published
because of several weaknesses, but the interviews Merrifield
conducted contain information which could not be replicated.
First, Merrifield had access to a number of JSC managers who are
not, because of deaths, retirements, relocations, etc., presently
accessible. Secondly, as Merrifield's interviews were conducted 15
years ago, the memory of certain events were fresher in the minds
of the interviewees, and their perspectives may be different than
today. However, while the Merrifield interviews were valuable, his
orientation was different than that of this study, and any use of
information from the Merrifield interviews required confirmation
from the interviewee and/or had to be subject to the earlier men-
tioned verification standard. A list of the Merrifield interviews
used for the study is given in Appendix 2.
Interviews were conducted with a sample of managers who
possess information which related to the objectives of this study.
The basic reason for interviews was to fill in the blanks. At JSC,
as in many large organizations, much of the decision making was
done on an informal basis. The records that exist usually reflected
post-decision consensus without including all facets of the deci-
sion. The interviews are helpful in finding out what happened and
The questions addressed to each interviewee was based upon
the analysis of the histories and historical data performed during
the library research. The main function of the interview was to
focus attention upon specific decisions, the effects of those
decisions, and the attending issues (and to verify information
used from Merrifield). Because the interviews needed to be
tailored, different sets of questions were developed for each
interview. This focused type of interview yielded more relevant
data than that of a more structured interview, or of a more free
story, or nondirective interview. The reason for the type of
interview used has been described by Selltiz as follows:
First of all, the persons interviewed are known to have
been involved in a particular situation; secondly, the
significant patterns of the situations are known by the
research; thirdly, the major areas of inquiry and
criteria of relevance of data is established; and fourth,
the interview is focused on the experiences of persons
exposed to the situation in an effort to ascertain their
definition of the situation.
An example of the type of questions used in the interviews
is given below. In this particular instance, James C. Elms, JSC
Deputy Director (1964-65) and currently a consultant to the NASA
Administrator, was the interviewee.
What specific organizational changes, if any, did you
believe MSC required when you came on board?
When and why did subsystem management come into being at
What type of guidance did you receive from NASA
Headquarters relative to the MSC organization?
These interviews thus developed information which was not
previously available. The information was essential to the study,
and in fact, the interviews became a primary source of information
for the study. Without the interviews, the study would have an
entirely different tact.
The group to be interviewed for this study consisted of
those managers possessing certain qualifications. Qualified mana-
gers were those who were or are part of the decision-making process
on the organization of JSC, part of the decision-making process on
establishing and managing JSC programs, and/or in positions having
access to information used in the above decision-making processes.
Determining who should be interviewed was done by analyz-
ing the JSC organizational charts and by content analysis of JSC
histories. From this population, a group was selected for inter-
views. Basically, this group consisted of JSC Directors and senior
managers. Because the organizational issues tended to be exposed
to only a few decision makers, it was not necessary to conduct a
large number of interviews.^ A very select group consisting of
JSC Directors, Deputy Directors, and their senior management staff
formed the basis of the interview list. The list of managers
interviewed is given in Appendix 1.
Data Gathering and Content Analysis
Data gathering was a continuous process throughout the
study. The library research produced the basic skeleton for the
study, but this skeleton was not complete. Data produced by the
interviews not only resulted in understanding of decisions and
issues covered by the library research, but also often produced new
considerations and perspectives. This new information resulted in
additional library research, follow-up questions to some interviews,
and sometimes the redesign of interviews which were scheduled to
occur.^ In essence, the data gathering was an iterative process
and was the single longest research step.
In order to structure the data for analysis, five major
units (or chapters) were established. These units were organized
in a historical manner as this method both facilitated analysis and
presentation of the data.
The first unit (chapter) examined the background and envi-
ronment which caused the establishment of the STG. This analysis
revealed the existence of organizational structure issues regarding
STG's programs and indicated that the STG could not drawn upon its
background as a model for the future. The STG would have to create
an organization out of its own devices.
The first few years of the STG's existence was fairly busy.
The STG became organized, searched for support from other government
agencies, and utilized private industry to develop the first manned
spacecraft. The characteristics of the STG and the methods used to
manage the network of organizations supporting the Mercury program
are discussed in the next unit. These characteristics formed the
background for future expansion of the STG.
This expansion came when two new manned space flight
programs were added to the STG missions and the STG was transferred
to Houston. Certain issues developed in how the STG (now JSC) would
manage multiple programs and accomplish the research and development
function of manned space flight programs. The resolution of these
issues was an almost continuous process for several years after JSC
was established in Houston. However, once the JSC pattern of
organizational structure was in place, the pattern proved to be
With the organization structure established, we then
examined how the structure responded to various pressures. These
pressures included: establishment of a new offsite organization;
loss of a critical offsite function; fatal Apollo spacecraft fire;
and medical and space science communities' need for greater par-
ticipation in Apollo program. Each of these pressures was examined
in terms of its impact upon the JSC basic pattern of organization
and how the pattern was able to accommodate these pressures.
It was the objective of this study to determine what les-
sons could be learned from studying the basic pattern of JSC's organ-
ization. Towards this end, it was determined not to attempt to
prove specific hypotheses but to maintain a broad-based perspective.
Development of specific hypotheses would concentrate the study to-
wards those hypotheses and may result in limited attention to other
areas which may be important. For example, a potential hypothesis is
that since JSC was organized in the early 1960's, the organization
should reflect the prevalent organization structure and management
philosophy of that era. While the answer to this hypothesis might
prove interesting, its examination would limit the study to organiza-
tion and management theories of the prevailing era, thus limiting the
ability to identify other characteristics in the JSC pattern of
A broader based perspective allowed the drawing of three
sets of conclusions. The first set consisted of the identification
of certain traits of the JSC management style which influenced the
Center's basic pattern of organization. These traits are useful in
understanding the JSC management system and its organization struc-
ture. The second set of conclusions drew some analogies between
the JSC organization and certain organizational theories. Several
instances were found where the JSC organization structure and its
development supported some organizational theories. The final set
of conclusions integrated the first two sets in terms of implica-
tion for the future of the JSC organization.
This chapter depicted the methodology for performing the
study of what Henry Mintzberg termed "America's most famous adhoc-
racy of the 1960's." The study objective was to determine what
could be learned from the organizational structure and administra-
tive orientation of a managerial system which Fortune magazine
contemplated "may be NASA's contribution to a better world."
As described in this chapter, the objective was accomplished by
analysis of data obtained through interviews, internal documenta-
tion, and histories of NASA and its programs.
The collection of data for the study involved two of the
more common locations,^ library and field, for social science
research. Within the library, all three available methods, analysis
of historical records, analysis of documents, and literature search
for theory and previous research, were employed. The first two of
these library methods were discussed in this chapter. The third
library method is discussed in the following chapter. The field
method implemented was the focused interview, as at that point in
the study, definite types of information was required. This
method, including interview design and interview sample, were dis-
cussed in this chapter. The research procedure focused on lessons
to be learned from the JSC organizations. Specific hypotheses were
neither developed nor used as a tool of analysis. A broader based
perspective was used to establish the conclusions for the study.
The next chapter summarizes the relevant literature on
organization structure, with an emphasis on research and develop-
ment organizations. This synthesis establishes the base from which
the analysis of the JSC organization can begin.
Chapter 4 will chronicle the political, technological, and
administrative environment which led to the establishment of NASA.
Chapter 5 will then discuss the formation of JSC (initially formed
as the STG) and its early struggles to organize for the Mercury
program, the first manned space flight program.
Chapters 6, 7, and 8 discuss the evolution of the Center
from STG to its organization at the end of its first decade.
Chapter 6 focuses on the transfer of the Center to Houston, Texas,
and its organization for two new manned space flight programs,
Gemini and Apollo. Chapter 7 takes a look at JSC relationships
with its offsite units, WSTF, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the
Operations Division at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Chapter 8 details
the major structural changes which accrued at JSC after its initial
organization for the Apollo program.
Chapters 9 and 10 analyze and summarize the findings of
the thesis. Chapter 9 discusses the lessons of the first ten years
and the implications for the Center. Chapter 10 summarizes the
study and its findings.
^Jacques Barzum and H. F. Graff Modern Researcher (New
York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977), pp. 150-151.
The Levine book reflects the perspective of the senior
NASA managers, particularly those of James Webb during the Apollo
program, and for that reason is an important addition to the NASA
histories. Interview with James Webb.
RECON is a computer-based listing of all publications
produced or sponsored by the NASA Scientific and Technical
Information Office. These publications include: Special publica-
tions such as reports of major projects, monographs, data compila-
tions, handbooks, source books, and special bibliographies;
Technical reports, notes, and memorandums considered important,
complete, and a lasting contribution to existing knowledge;
Contractor reports of special merit; Technical translations of
special merit; and Technology Utilization Publications.
4The JSC History function is part of the overall NASA
History Program. NASA Maintains an internal History Program for
two principal reasons:
Publication of official histories is one of the ways
NASA responds to that provision of the National
Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 which requires NASA
to 'provide for the widest practicable and appropriate
dissemination of information concerning its activities
and the results thereof.1
The thoughtful study of NASA history can assist agency
managers in accomplishing the missions that are assigned
to the agency. Understanding NASA's past promotes a more
complete understanding of its present condition and
illuminates possible future courses. (NASA Management
Instruction 2700.2D, NASA History Program, September 13,
Arnold S. Levine, "An Administrative History of NASA,
1963-1969" (unpublished manuscript, Comment Edition, NASA History
Office, August 1977), p. 5.
6The NASA History Office (E. M. Emme's memorandum "NASA
History by R. Merrifield" (June 16, 1972)) recommended that "Dr.
Merrifield be thanked for his valuable contributions, which will be
useful and fully credited in future histories. He should be
informed that his manuscript cannot be published as a NASA History."
The manuscript was considered to have focused on "the minor, the
failures, the controversial, and unproprietary items" and not
integrated the major activities and missions of the Center. A
unifying theme tieing together the minor elements emphasized in the
manuscript and providing the justification for these elements was
lacking. Also, Mae M. Link's memorandum "Comment Draft Chapter 1-4
of MSC Narrative History," March 11, 1970; L. J. Sullivan's
memorandum "R. B. Merrifield's History," February 14, 1972.
^The interview design and technique used in this study
are similar to that used in other administrative histories. For
example, Philip Whitbeck's study of NASA's policies to retain
control of basic decisions. Whitbeck noted that ". . interviews
were critical in understanding how and why NASA came to adopt the
policies it did." Philip H. Whitbeck, "Government Responsibility
and Private Sector Participation in the United States Space
Program," DPA Dissertation, University of Colorado, 1983.
Delbert C. Miller, Handbook of Research Design and Social
Management. 3rd ed. (New York: David McKay Company, 1977), p. 66.
9Claire M. Selltiz, Jahoda M. Deutsch, and S. W. Cook,
Research Methods in Social Relations. 3rd ed. (New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1979), p. 264.
^The use of a small number of key decision makers fits
well within Kerlinger's methods for historical research. His basic
role for research in history is "Always use primary sources. A
primary source is the original repository of historical datum,
like an . ., an eyewitness description of an event . ." In
lieu of relying entirely on reports and memorandums, Kerlinger
strongly emphasizes the study of someone's account of the event.
Fred N. Kerlinger, Foundations of Behavioral Research. 2nd ed.
(New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973), p. 702.
^Verification of information from more than a single
source was a key concern throughout the study. Issac advises that
there are two basic forms of criticism, external and internal.
Internal criticism; i.e., if the data is authentic, is it also
accurate and relevant, was always of a greater probability than
external because of the chances of biases, motives, and perspective
of those interviewed. As a preventive measure, verification of
data collected by either a second source, either primary or
secondary, was required before the data was used in the study. By
such method, it was hoped to avoid or minimize those common errors
found in historical research. Stephen Issac and William Michael,
Handbook in Research and Evaluation (San Diego, CA: Edits
Publishers, 1971), p. 8 and pp. 16-17.
Adhocracy, a term coined by Alan Toffler, is a type of
organization structure that is "able to fuse experts drawn from
different disciplines into smoothly functioning ad hoc project
teams." Henry Mintzberg, The Structuring of Organizations, A
Synthesis of the Research (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,
1979), pp. 432-433.
Tom Alexander, "The Unexpected Payoff of Project
Apollo," Fortune, June 1969, p. 114.
^Miller, Handbook of Research Design and Social
Management, pp. 65-68.
^5Selltiz, Research Methods in Social Relations, p. 264.
Organization structure appears in the literature as an
element of general management theory. Because of this the factors
which are considered of importance to structure, indeed the very
importance of organization structure itself, has varied dependent
upon the general management theory.* For this reason, in order to
understand the theoretical framework of organization structure, it
is also necessary to have some understanding of the general frame-
work of management thought. Any understanding of theoretical
framework is necessary, of course, as a prerequisite to the study
of organizational structure, otherwise one does not know what to
The objective of this chapter, therefore, is to provide a
general understanding of management theory, and in particular, an
understanding of organization theory as related to the development
and maintenance of structure. Ferreting out literature on mana-
gerial thought is not a problem today as our libraries are bulging
with management works, some of which are bogus. The challenge is
to select and bring together the more relevant portions of manage-
ment thought and synopsize this information to establish a frame-
work for this study.
The guide for accomplishment of this objective has been
the approach taken by Claude S. George, Jr., in his History of
Management Thought. George, in attempting to gain a "comprehen-
sive understanding of the whole of management," examined management
thought from prehistoric times through the 1970*s- Rather than
endorsing a particular school of management thought, he believed
something could be learned from every era. George's approach is
not unlike that of Thomas Kuhn who examined not managerial theories,
but scientific theories. Kuhn believed that as science generated
knowledge about the physical world, paradigms were developed to
explain the relationship among this set of generated knowledge.
Paradigms were valid only as long as all generated data fell with-
in its relationship. As data were generated and accumulated outside
the ability of a paradigm to explain, eventually a new paradigm was
developed to encompass these new data. Kuhn's point was that the
data were always valid; it was merely the ability of man to explain
the relationship existing among the data that was lacking.
From an examination of George and other major histories,
management thought was broken down into six time periods: pre-
industrial revolution (pre-1700); industrial revolution (1700-1900);
classical management (1900-1930); human relations (1930-1950);
systems theory (1950-1970); and contingency theory (1970-present).
The first two periods offer little toward the study as organizations
were not that complex (from a technical and managerial perspective)
before the 1900's, and managerial thought had not yet become a
separate field.^ The classical management period introduced two
concepts which are important to the study. First, from Frederick
Taylor's scientific management movement and from administrative
management writers such as Henri Fayol, classical principles of
how an organization should be designed were developed. While
these principles have fallen into some disrepute, they remain as
tools to understand and analyze organizations and as aids in plan-
ning organization structure. Second, Max Weber's description of
the characteristics of bureaucracy advises us of the inherent
nature of large structures and the dysfunctional traits which may
emerge from such structure.
From the human relations period we find the attempt to
establish a link between worker satisfaction and productivity. We
find that link still being explored today, particularly with regard
to scientists and engineers where individual creativity is often
required.^0 Systems theory revolves around the notion that orga-
nizations are a set of interrelated parts, and the manager's job
is to understand the interrelationships among the individual
parts.1* These interrelationships will be governed to a large
degree by the organization's structure; thus, structure is an
integrated part of systems theory. The challenge of systems
theory to structure is that the organizational design must be
knowledgeable of and be capable of dealing with the various inter-
related parts. Finally, there exists contingency theory which
emphasizes situational solutions to challengers or problems.
Under this theory there exists no master plan of organization
structure, rather structure must relate to other dynamics, such as
the environment or leadership patterns. Structure must there-
fore be adaptable to changes in the other influencing dynamics.
Systems theory and contingency theory are somewhat similar in that
they both consider the total spectrum of factors influencing the
organization. The difference between the two appears to lie in
application. System theory is more analytical oriented while
contingency theory is more applications oriented. As both deal
with the same dynamics, and as the objective of this literature
search is to understand the dynamics of structure, systems and
contingency theory will be discussed together.
The survey of management theory produced a great deal
about organizational structure, in general, and generated a theo-
retical base from which the structure of JSC could be analyzed.
This analysis will be performed through the development of a
series of questions relating the theoretical base to the develop-
ment of the JSC structure. These questions will serve as guides
for the evaluation of the information generated by the study. On
the basis of this evaluation, conclusions and implications can
then be drawn. Additionally, while it is clear that similar prob-
lems are encountered in organizing any major complex project,
research and development (R&D) projects present some very special
problems which are often different or unique. A review of the
literature specially related to R&D organizations was also per-
formed. This review resulted in the identification of unique
problems associated with administrating and organizing research
The special problems of R&D projects seem to fall into
five general categories:
1. Coordination of technology development between re-
search laboratories, development groups, manufacturing units, and
2. Creation of complex structures in order to deal with
3. Interrelationship of scientists with administrative
4. Application of systems approach to decision making.
5. Adaptation to environmental uncertainty.
These unique problems with R&D have, for these purposes of
this chapter, been integrated with the general discussion. The
factors that affect R&D organizations are not any different from
those factors which affect other organizations. However, it is the
nature of R&D which causes these factors to have a greater or
lesser effect than otherwise. For this reason, rather than have a
separate section on R&D, R&D organizations are discussed within the
general management theory framework of this chapter. This format
permits an integration of general theory with the uniqueness of R&D
The Importance of Structure to the
Research and Development
We begin the search for a theoretical base by first
establishing a relationship between sound organizational structure
and the needs of the organization. Robert E. Seiler advises that
Sound organizational structure is basic to effective
managerial control. It provides a foundation for
detailed planning and coordination, assignment of
duties and responsibilities, and measurement of the
effectiveness of each unit in meeting the plans estab-
lished. Since research and development has unique
objectives and since its work is difficult to plan and
its effectiveness difficult to measure, a sound organi-
zational structure is essential. 1
Seiler made these conclusions after he had conducted an extensive
study on how to improve the effectiveness of this nation's research
and development activities. His conclusions suggest, for us, that
there is something unique about the necessity for good structure
in R&D efforts.
The interest in structure is not limited to organizations
performing R&D work. Amitai Etzioni advises that "more research
has been conducted and more writings are available on organizational
structure than on organizational goals and environment" and "the
major schools of organizational analysis have fixed their interests
on structural aspects of the organization." The reasons for this
interest is not explained by Etzioni, but the attention given to
structure may, perhaps, be explained by exploring its various
The Attempt to Define Organization Structure
Organization structure appears to be a term which everyone
uses but which few can completely define. Eleven definitions, no
two alike, each presenting an age of management thought, were
examined and are presented.
We begin with a definition by Robert Presthus which illus-
trates the ambiguity that exists in some areas of management
thought. There is some confusion between organization and struc-
ture. Indeed, it is not unusual to find the terms used inter-
changeably at times. Presthus defines organization as "a system
of structural interpersonal relations . individuals are dif-
ferentiated in terms of authority, status, and role with the result
that personal interaction is prescribed." William Scott differs,
seeing this relationship as existing between functions, not indi-
viduals. He states that "Structure is the logical relationship of
functions in an organization, arranged to accomplish the objectives
of the company efficiently."24 Scott thus begins a trail that will
be found often, the close relationship between the structure and
the objectives of the organization.
Some definitions of structure emphasize the importance of
structure at the expense of precisely defining structure. Joseph
Litterer, for example, believes structure is the design of the
attributes of the organization. These attributes (such as organi-
zational goals, boundaries, skills, managerial objectives, etc.)
and their pattern of interactions are the crucial dimensions of
the organization. Another method of definition is the analogy.
Dwight Waldo defines organization by differentiating between orga-
nization and management. In his analogy he stated,
Organization is the anatomy, management the physiology,
of administration. Organization is structure; management
is functioning . More precisely, organization may be
defined as the structure of authoritative and habitual
personal interrelations in an administrative system.
Henry Mintzberg in his synthesis of organization structure
theory says the structure of an organization can be defined simply
as the sum total of the ways in which it divides its labor into
distinct tasks and then achieves coordination among them. But
this simple definition misses several critical aspects of structure
which were earlier defined. The relationship between structure and
organization goals mentioned by Scott and the effect on inter-
personal relationships described by Presthus are not mentioned in
Mintzberg's simple definition.
The definitions given up to now have not attempted to dif-
ferentiate between structure and different types of organization.
John Millett points out that because the organizational structure
and administrative processes occur in substantially the same
generalized form in commercial and government organizations, there
is the tendency to study these organizations as one. Four charac-
teristics of organizations in particular are given by Millett:
formality, hierarchy, size and complexity, and duration. Mi 11ett
postulated out two essential factors missing from the then-current
(1966) discussions of public organizations.
First, organization for public service is different from
other types of organization because it is established and
operates in a political context. Secondly, organization
for public services, like organizations for other purposes,
cannot be analyzed exclusively in behavioral terms, in
terms of attitudes and reactions of those who participate
in an organized enterprise. There are technical aspects
of organization to understand and to apply.
Millett's definition is a watershed for it combines the bureaucratic
(i.e., Weberian characteristics) elements of organizations, the
interpersonal relationships, the notion that public administration
is different, and the technology of the work.
Harold Seidman follows up on Millett's points. He states
Established organization doctrine, with its emphasis on
structural mechanics, manifests incomplete understanding
of our constitutional system, institutional behavior, and
the tactical and strategic uses of organization structure
as an instrument of politics, position, and power. u
In this regard, public administration differs from private
enterprise in that the organizational structure may be determined
in accordance with prevailing political expectations. The pri-
mary consideration on the organization of a public agency may not
be its stated end purposes, but rather the expectations of Agency
performance from the Legislative oversight committee, interest
groups, the Executive Office, the public at large. An example of
the recognition by Congress of the importance of organizational
structure in the accomplishment of an Agency's objectives is found
in the various reorganization acts, which preclude the President
from breaking up, merging, or recombining agencies without
Congressional oversight. Congress is hesitant to give the
President broad powers with respect to administrative organization
because Congress is sensitive to the relationship between struc-
ture and performance. This sensitivity is particularly pertinent
to NASA because the structure of NASA was a critical element in
Congressional hearings on the act establishing NASA.
As witnessed by these definitions, structure can serve
many purposes. The organizational designer has to be careful not
to let the organization's structure become diffused by too many
considerations. In this regard, Paul Ballou advises that the
"trend in organizations has been away from a fixed bureaucratic
hierarchy toward one that is flexible and functional according to
its needs." "The focus of the administrative/structural subsystem"
is still, however, on the traditional attributes of "authority,
structure, and responsibility within the organization."
J. E. Walters gives a definition of structure which is
closest to reflecting the primary focus of this study. Walters
defines structure as
The total coordination of the group effort, including a
description of the tasks and functions to be performed
by individuals, the arrangements of jobs into projects,
projects into groups, groups into sections, divisions
and departments; and the integration of these projects,
groups and departments into an overall operations with
a single goal.
This definition describes the function of the organizational
designer, and it is from this perspective that the study is
One final definition places the study in perspective. Kast
and Rosenzweig consider "structure to be the established pattern of
relationships among the components or parts of the organization.
In the complex organization, structure is set forth initially by
the design of the major components or subsystems and then by the
establishment of patterns of relationships among these sub-
systems." Structure, thus not only creates personal interrela-
tionships as proposed by Scott, but structure also creates inter-
relationships among functions or systems within the organization.
These definitions of structure have described structure in
many terms. Included in these definitions have been concepts of:
division of work and coordination of this division; personal inter-
relationships; subsystem or function interrelations; bureau-
cratic characteristics; technology of the work; nature (public
versus private) of the enterprise; other attributes of the organi-
zation; and importantly, the goals of the organization. By these
definitions we have learned that structure touches every facet of
the organization, thus explaining its importance in the organiza-
These preceding definitions tell us that organization
structure must be "viable in terms of (1) success for the organi-
zation in achieving its goals, and (2) success in providing indi-
viduals inside the organization with the opportunity for fulfilling
whatever needs they are pursuing in the organization." The chal-
lenge of the organization designer is to achieve this structure.
Or, as Paul Mott puts it, the challenge is to achieve organiza-
tional effectiveness; i.e., "the ability of an organization to
mobilize its centers of power for action productivity, adapt-
ability, and flexibility."38 This was the challenge that existed
for the designers of the Johnson Space Center.
An Examination of Organization Theory, Particularly
As It Applies to Research and Development *
The study of organizations has developed concepts which
the organizational designer must consider in theory. But the ques-
tion remains as to how much practical help organization theory can
provide. The first practical help began with the scientific
management concepts of Frederick Taylor and others of his time who
developed the principles or organization. For years, long after
the "principles" were no longer accepted by organizational theo-
rists, the principles remained as the only practical guide to the
Classical Management: A Model for R&D Organizations
Taylor practiced his research in the early 1900's, invent-
ing concepts that led to modern industrial engineering. The key
to understanding scientific management is Taylor's concept of work
specialization which resulted in the first two "principles" of
Division of Work Work ought to be divided up so as to
take maximum advantage of the skills of the employees.
Principle of Homogeneity Similar activities ought to be
grouped together in the same unit under a single supervisor and a
In approximately the same period as Taylor was working in
the United States, a French mining engineer, Henri Fayol was
developing a comprehensive theory of management. Fayol believed
that there existed universal principles of organization which could
be applied to any large organization. Fourteen principles were
identified by Fayol, of which six stand out:
Unity of Command Each employee receives orders from one
Scalar Principle When unity of command is adhered to,
the result is the scalar chain, or organizational pyramid.
Span of Control Limit to the number of subordinates
that a supervisor can effectively oversee.
Centralization Organizations are administered from the
top down; ultimate responsibility remains at the top rather than
being lost among subordinates.
Responsibility Job of executive is to establish the
degree of responsibility attached to each job.
Authority The gift to give orders and the power to exact
. .. 40
Also deeply interested in this new social structure during
the early 1900's was the German sociologist, Max Weber. His analy-
sis of bureaucracy which still stands as the "point of departure
for all further analyses," was first published in 1922 but not
translated into English until 1947. Weber extrapolated what he
believed to be the typical characteristics of bureaucracy. Al-
though Weber is typically pictured as an advocate of these princi-
pies, he in fact feared the development of bureaucracies. Max
Weber considered bureaucracy to be the most important feature of
modern government and society. Bureaucracy was regarded not as
simply as organizational form, but as an outcrop of a distinct pat-
tern of the total society. The bases of the bureaucratic structure
are economic, a certain type of rational thinking, and mastery
over the employees. Weber did not see anything, on a comparable
historical basis, which institutionalized the bases of bureaucratic
structure which had made possible the distinctive achievements of
Western history in science, in technology, and in government. In
fact, Weber saw the economic, et al., characteristics as tendencies
which might lead to a drastic alteration in the institutional
foundations of Western society. Bureaucracy had the effect of
securing "definite political predominance over the principle areas
of Western civilization and would almost certainly be its gradual
transformation into a traditionalized structure." Such a trans-
formation could in the long run choke off the most distinctive
products in society, science, imagination, culture, and lead to a
great revival of "superstition" and mythology. Weber's concern
was that the bureaucratic characteristics would hamper the more
creative (and also dissident) elements of society*^ Thus, we
witness in Weber the first concern in integrating science with
It was found that the 1960's literature dealing with the
organization of the R&D function was oriented toward the classical
management principles' trend of thought. Robert Seiler, for
example in his 1965 work on R&D, suggests the peculiar nature of
the R&D function produced four critical organizational areas:
1. Construction of an organization built around main
functions, rather than individuals or small groups.
2. Maintenance of balance, without duplication, overlap-
ping, or overemphasis on any single area.
3. Delegation of authority, sufficiently close to the
point at which action must be taken.
4. Allowance for the exercise of .maximum initiative
within the limits of delegated authority.^
Further evidence is provided from various research on R&D
organizations. Alexander Stanley and K. White, in their 1965
survey of 50 R&D organizations, developed a list of 35 specific
factors to consider in designing R&D departments in industrial
organizations, all of which deal with the subject matter considered
by the principles. Also, J. E. Walters in his 1964 research
found the following scenario as the typical method of designing R&D
1. A consideration of purposes and objectives.
2. The determination of the field or subject of research
or development and the selection of the project or projects.
3. The selection and appointment of a scientist or
engineer to do the research and development, or lead it, and
letting him organize his group and manage the project practically
or obtain assistance in the administration of the project.
More recently, in their 1978 work R&D Productivity,
Hughes Aircraft listed six important considerations in organizing.
1. A decision must be made on the optimum span of control.
2. Responsibility and accountability particularly with
respect to performance and profit should be readily identifiable,
denoting a clear chain for decision-making and approval authority.
3. Effective channels for organizational communication
should be a key consideration.
4. Overlapping of functions should be carefully avoided.
5. Great care should be taken to preclude any unneces-
6. The organizational structure should be continually
monitored for peak effectiveness.
Weber's concern about bureaucracy stifling creativity is
also reflected in the above works. Each of the above devotes a
section on creativity and the organizational system. Walters, in
fact, suggests, the answer to the conflict lies in delegation and
decentralization of the R&D function. This answer, albeit having
value, was too general and simplistic; the answer to Weber's con-
cern as it related to scientists and engineers was given not by
structuralists but by other organizational researchers such as
Donald Pelz and Frank Andrews.
Scientific management has resisted the efforts of major
contemporary organization theorists such as Herbert Simon, Douglas
McGregor, and Warren Bennis to discredit its principles. There
are probably several reasons for the principles' survival. First,
the "principles" were not, as Simon suggests, necessarily con-
sidered to be the "one best way." Nicos Mouzelis points out that
the classical theorists used the term "principle" in three ways:
. . sometimes it has a descriptive connotation;
it simply states the existence of a certain organiza-
tion feature (e.g., the hierarchy principle) ....
. . more rarely, it can express a relation be-
tween organization variables ....
. . finally, and in its most current use, the
term has a normative,character; it is a guide to manage-
ment action ....
Along these lines, Alan Altshuler states that the differ-
ence between Simon and the classical theorists "was not that the
former could tell a proverbial from a scientific principle. It was
rather that the latter considered some proverbs very useful--as
checklists of factors worth considering, as handy cores around
which to organize one's thoughts, and as the closest brief approxi-
mations of wisdom available in many circumstances." Peter
Drucker points out two blind spots in classical theorists but notes
that we must "preserve the fundamental insights of scientific
management." The "principles" must be considered as analytical in
character, rather than as principle of action. Indeed, Altshuler
concludes that the "principles" remain "alive and kicking" as there
is "no substitute body of normative ideas on how to organize."
Consequently, those people responsible for organizing or reorganiz-
ing still regularly fall back upon them.
In summary, the legacy of scientific management to some is
the concept of "time and motion" studies and the "one best way."
We should not, however, as Drucker states, confuse "a principle of
analysis with a principle of action." The "principles" or
organization are useful as tools to understand and analyze organi-
zations and as aids in planning organization. They should not be
interpreted as the "one best way," but as a management approach to
decision-making based upon facts and reasoning.
This review of classical management theory has produced
two questions for the study. First, to what degree did the
designers of the JSC structure rely upon the "principles" developed
by classical management theory? Second, were the dysfunctional
aspects of the characteristics of bureaucracy as elaborated by
Weber considered in the JSC structure?
Human Relations: A Critical Element for Development Work
Whereas classical management emphasized the efficiency of
organizational process as the centrality of management action,
there developed in the 1930's a new school of management thought
that emphasized the centrality of the individual. This new school
reasoned "that inasmuch as managers get things done through people,
the study of management must be centered around the workers and
their interpersonal relations."
Chester Barnard, a former president of Jersey Bell
Telephone, writing in the 1930's had a profound effect upon the
direction of management thought. Barnard was interested in the
relationship between organizational structure and basic sociologi-
Barnard saw organizations as cooperative systems consist-
ing of a dynamic equilibrium between the needs of the organization
and the needs of the employees. The primary function of the execu-
tive is to maintain this dynamic equilibrium which required an
awareness of the nature of both the formal and informal organiza-
tions. One of Barnard's tenets was that "when formal organizations
come into operation, they create and require informal organiza-
tions." Obviously, Barnard's concept of management differed
from that of scientific management and his efforts crystallized
into management thought the findings of earlier research work by
The existence and effect on the informal organization was
dramatized by Elton Mayo in his 20-year research program beginning
in 1927 at Western Electric's Hawthorne facility. Mayo's idea was
that rational factors were far less important than emotional
factors in determining productive efficiency. Of all the human
factors influencing behavior, the most powerful were those emanat-
ing from the worker's participation in informal groups. Thus, Mayo
concluded that work arrangements, in addition to meeting the objec-
tive requirements of production, must, at the same time, satisfy
the employee's needs for social interaction at his work place.
In the Hawthorne research, it was found that workers in a
factory constituted a culture of their own that could be observed
and analyzed. The researchers concluded that effective management
must recognize that the work performed by individuals must satisfy
their personal, subjective requirements of social satisfaction, as
well as the company's requirement of productive output. Addition-
ally, the work group was a major influence on the individual. It
was found, for example, that each worker's level of output reflected
his position in the informal organization of the group. This meant
that management must assume a new role in its dealings with
employees; it must develop a new concept of authority and right
to command; it must help foster a new social order based on the
individual's cooperative attitude and the system of coordinative
organization and communication developed by management; and it must
recognize the influence of the informal groups in their dealings
with individual employees.^
Discovery of the informal system and work groups meant
that the tie between the formal and informal system had to be
analyzed. Herbert Simon wrote of the relationship between the
formal and informal organization. According to Simon,
The formal structure performs no function unless it
actually sets limits to the informal function of the
formal organization to prevent the development of
organizational politics -- struggle for influence and
authority to a point that would be,deleterious to
the functioning of the organization.
In 1946 while attacking the "principles" school, Simon had called
for methodology. This research methodology, called for by Simon,
was to be provided by Robert Merton and others in organizational
research (e.g., Selznick, Gouldner, and Blane).
Merton found that the classic bureaucracy described by
Max Weber resulted in certain dysfunctional characteristics. The
emphasis on rules and regulations, conceived as a means, becomes
transformed into an end in itself. There occurs a "displacement
of goals" whereby "an instrumental value becomes a terminal
value." The process was recapitulated by Merton as: demand by
the bureaucracy for adherence to regulations and standardized
responses; regulations are transformed into absolutes, becoming no
longer associated with a set of purposes; this transformed atti-
tude interferes with bureaucrats' ability to adapt to special or
changing situations; the regulations then start producing ineffi-
ciency in other-than-normal instances.
Additionally, this transformation produces conflict with
the public, clients, etc., who are focused on the ends, not the
means, and are not content to "follow the regulation." Conflict
with clients, et al., is also promoted by the hierarchial system,
wherein there is a power discrepancy between positions in the
hierarchy and relationships with the client. The client often
considers himself equal to or "socially superior to the bureaucrat,
whereas the bureaucrat perceives himself as dominant.
The work of these researchers surfaced the issue raised by
Weber. The problem of the relation between the authority of exper-
tise and bureaucratic authority has concerned sociologists and
organization theorists since Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy
began to be applied in empirical studies. Walters described the
problem as related to research and development organizations:
Many scientists and engineers are individualists and
professional specialists, objective and self-contained.
They desire to work out their scientific problems by
themselves, without the aid or interference from ad-
ministrators or managers, especially the nonscientist
kind. .Most scientists seem to have a subconscious
dislike for administrators, and contend that "the
least administration is the best.
Donald Pelz and Frank Andrews spent 10 years researching
the effects of organizations on productivity of scientists and
engineers. Their definitive work Scientists in Organizations
reported findings from 1300 scientists and engineers in 11 govern-
mental, industrial, and academic laboratories. One area addressed
in this study was the question of how much autonomy for the indi-
vidual is conducive to high performance.*^ They concluded that
there existed a middle range of coordination--enough coordination
to provide structure, direction and sense of involvement and
participation, but flexible enough to allow the scientists some
control over his. environment. Pelz and Andrews suggest that for
research engineers in development laboratories, "the kind of
philosophy represented in Rensis Likert's New Patterns of
Management should be highly effective." Pelz's and Andrews'
conclusions are supported by university research sponsored by NASA
and DOD grants. One group of University of California (Berkeley)
researchers found that the more experienced government laboratory
administrators tended to think in terms of coordination and
consultation with their group rather than in terms of direction and
control.^ Basic responsibilities included shaping the research
goals of the group and creating and maintaining a good research
Another group at Berkeley found that an organization must
be flexible in order to facilitate creative or innovative R&D, and
that participative leadership (versus laissez faire or directive)
was the most relevant for the engineers.This study also found
that some organizations "rather than changing any organizational
structure to accommodate the scientific orientation, substitute for
such changes what may be called an 'organizational ideology'."
An example of this ideology at NASA was the following statement of
Wernher von Braun (Marshall Space Flight Center Director, 1966-1970)
The philosophy at Marshall has always been that progress
depends on the total effort of each individual as a member
of a team. Success is the result of the combined contri-
butions of each and every person who knows his own job
better than anyone else. The contributions he can make
through his particular knowledge, experience, and skill
are indispensable to the team's success. The individual
will give his best if he is^shown his importance to the
total scheme of operations.
In addition to the problem of autonomy, another problem
affecting organization structure discovered by researchers is the
composition of the R&D team. Pelz and Andrews found that some
diversity within the team, in terms of areas of specialization and
types of tasks, seemed to exist in high performance teams.^
Further, Mintzberg noted that professionals must join in organic
multidisciplinary teams to create new knowledge. This require-
ment is a further build in problem organizing for R&D work.
In summary, human relations theory produces our third
question for the study. To what extent did the unique require-
ments to insure creativity and ingenuity from scientists and
engineers influence the JSC structure and its development?
Systems and Contingency Theory; The Nature of R&D
The human relations research was very beneficial, but this
school limited its research to one area. Organizations and their
structure are influenced by many variables which were soon to be
discovered. Two new schools of theory, systems and contingency,
radically changed our way of examining organizations.
Systems theory represents a sociological or biological
approach to organizations. The concept of organization as an open
system has been traced back to the behavioral psychology school of
F. H. Allport and M. E. Miller. Allport's theory contemplated
social structure as a cycle of events which occur over and over
again in a circular fashion. Social structure is achieved when
there exists a sufficient number of event series to complete a
cycle. Miller considered this cycle of events to consist of input,
throughput, and output series. Within this cycle there exist
other subsystems, such as boundary, language, conflict management,
overload, etc. Talcott Parsons is credited with developing a com-
plete, open-system approach for studying social organizations.
Daniel Katz and Robert Kahn trace the development of the open
system's concept from the writing of Parson. His theoretical model
of an organization was that of any energy input-output system in
which the energy return from the output reactivates the system.
Organizations can be analyzed in relation to the types and nature
of energy into the system, how this energy is transformed in the
system, and how this energy is then received in the environment,
and the resulting energy which is fed back into the system.
Systems theory is more concerned with the relationships, with
patterned interactions, and with interdependence than with the
constant characteristics of the system.^
A systems model was conceptualized by John Seiler, Figure
3, to illustrate the relationships within the organizational
systems and the environment.
The Seiler model is an effective illustration of the
differences between the systems theory and that of classical
management and human relations. Those schools largely ignored the
existence of forces in the environment. Under the systems concept,
as described by Katz and Kahn (and Seiler), organizations develop
in three stages. The first stage is dominated by an environment
which produces pressures or problems in search of a solution and
defines the characteristics and requirements of the problem solu-
tion. These environmental pressures stimulate the development of a
product or service to satisfy the pressure and the patterning of
activities which will continually meet these pressures. The first
stage thus results in a primitive production structure (throughput)
and the product (output) which will cause the generation of suffi-
cient resources (input) to warrant the continuation of the system.
The second stage, according to Katz and Kahn, is dominated
by the internal specialization of the system. The primitive pro-
duction system, is held together by the needs of the employees,
their shared values, and their cooperative effort in producing a
product. Normally, this is not enough to insure stability and a
steady state. The first function to become specialized, therefore,
is the authority structure; i.e., the locus of the decision-making
process and the initiator of rules. The authority structure has
four basic functions: coordination of functions; resolution of
conflicts; allocation of resources; and the coordination of
external requirements. The authority structure soon spins off
another subsystem, that of maintenance. The maintenance subsystem
function involves keeping track of the rules and their implementa-
tion, institutionalizing new members into the system, and
administering rewards and sanctions. Because of its orientation,
FORCES IN THE ENVIRONMENT
THE ORGANIZATIONAL STSTEM
Socio-Technical Systems An Elementary Framework
for Diagnosing Human Behavior in Organizations
Source: John A. Seiler, Systems Analysis in
Organizational Behavior (Homewood, 111:
Irwin and the Dorsey Press, 1967) p. 32
the maintenance subsystem tends to become very conversative and a
source of frustration. The actions of the maintenance subsystem
produce the next major development, the evolution of the informal
system. There exists an inevitable conflict between the emerging
task demands and rules and individual human needs and growth. One
consequence of this conflict is the informal system where people
will interact, make their own decisions, and cooperate among
Finally, Katz and Kahn's third stage witnesses the spe-
cialization of the system in interacting with its environment.
Three types of supportive structure will develop at the boundary
of the system to insure a steady state for its activities. One is
the procurement function, that is the obtaining of materials, per-
sonnel, and resources to get the job done. The second is the dis-
posal function; that is, the marketing of the product and its
distribution in the marketplace. Third is the institutional system
for relations with the community at large, particularly those ex-
ternal institutions which can have an effect upon the system. The
external focus of these three structures and their marginality can
be a source of tension within the system. A structure developed to
deal with that tension is the adaptive structure. The adaptive
structure looks toward the environment and is directed toward solv-
ing the conflicts that develop between organization practices and
future environmental demands. Through the functions of planning,
research, and development, the adaptive structure permits the system
to exploit a changing environment rather than be exploited by it.^
This description of the development of organizations
gives a model in which to compare the development of the JSC
organization. Contingency theory gives us no such model for that
theory is directed more toward the future than analysis of past
events. Contingency theory is more situational; i.e., what direc-
tion to make in light of today's events. The major challenge for
the organization, under contingency theory, is how to structure
groups in an effective and efficient work manner, and also "produce
a minimum of undesirable side effects and a maximum of satisfac-
tion." This objective requires that not only are both the formal
and informal groups examined for relations within the organization
but also the orientation and relations of both groups in the large
societal environment are to be examined. Contingency theory
analyzes the work setting, the environmental surrounding, the
sentiments of society, and the organizational interaction with
these elements. The use of a particular organization structure is
contingent upon the work, direction, and situation.
Systems theory produces the fourth question for the study.
Did the development of the JSC follow the pattern of organization
development postulated by systems theory?
Systems theory and contingency theory contributed to the
organizational designer some practical lessons in many areas; the
more critical appear to be supportive relationships, environment
influences, and technical systems. There also exist several other
intervening factors such as organization age, size, and the infor-
Supportive Relationships as an R&D Organization Tool
Rensis Likert conceived the principle of supporting rela-
tionships as an organizing concept. This principle, briefly stated,
The leadership and other processes of the organization
must be such as to ensure a maximum probability that in
all interactions and all relationships with the organiza-
tion, each member will, in the light of his background,
values, and expectations, view the experience as suppor-
tive and one which builds and maintains his sense of
personal worth and importance.
This principle states that an element critical to the success of an
organization is that the organization's goals be perceived by the
members as important and that each member should see his task as
important and meaningful to goal accomplishment.
Likert perceived that an organization is designed to func-
tion on the basis of the linking pin. The essence of this concept
is that supervisors function as members of three formal work teams:
as the leader of his own work team; as a peer in groups consisting
of others at his same level; and as a subordinate in his supervi-
sor's work team. To function effectively, the linking pin must be
able to communicate and exercise influence downward, laterally, and
upward. In fact, his ability to function effectively as a supervi-
sor depends in part on his ability to have sufficient influence
with his own supervisor. Whenever any one supervisor or member
fails in his role, then his groups and all groups under him will
not function properly. Thus, an organization will not approach its
full potential until all groups are functioning effectively; and
the higher the organizational level of an ineffective group, the
greater its adverse effect on the organization.
The linking pin concept is an important concept in the
administration of research and development. It was mentioned
earlier that one of the more difficult problems with R&D adminis-
tration was achieving coordination and cooperation among research,
development, and production departments. The linking pin is one
mechanism to foster this coordination and cooperation. David
Clel and and William King point out that among the ground rules of
R&D project offices and matrix organizations are three ideas
revolving around the linking pin concept. These ideas are: (1)
each person has a mix of roles in the total systems; (2) indivi-
dual managers do not occupy a single, central, fixed position in
the organization; and (3) the manager must understand the rela-
tionships between the parts of the system.
The linking pin concept produces the fifth question for
the study. Were project offices established on a linking pin
concept or on a more traditional hierarchial system?
Technical System: A Determinate of R&D Structure
The establishment of a relationship between an organiza-
tion's structure and its technology is a relatively recent phenom-
enon in management research. This relationship, however, has
been highly stressed beginning in the late 1960's. The importance
of technology was discussed by Lawrence who listed three ways in
which technology affects the organization.
First, technology is a determinant of the human inputs
required by an organization and, thus, indirectly of the
predisposition of employees. Second, technology is a
determinate of certain gross features of organizational
structure and procedure. Third, technology is an imme-
diate determinant of individual and group job designs
and therefore, indirectly a determinant of social struc-
ture and norms.
Joan Woodward's five-year research study on the management
practices in over 200 industrial firms in England highlighted the
relationship between technology and structure. The study concluded
that differences in objectives controlled and limited the production
technology and that the "criterion of the appropriateness of an
organizational structure must be the extent to which it furthers
the objectives of the firm." Woodward found that technology was
a major determinant on the organization structure, the relationship
between the functions of management, the number and nature of man-
agement decisions, and the development of informal human systems.
Charles Perrow, in his critical essay of the analysis of
organizations, believes that technical systems limit the type of
structure organizations can employ. The organic, non-bureaucratic
organization forms advocated by modern organizational theorists
such as Warren Bennis is viewed by Perrow with alarm. The techni-
cal systems of most organizations, Perrow believes, require a
Weberian type of bureaucratic structure; and a call for a different
type of structure can be realized only at a high cost in terms of
Leonard Sayles and Margaret Chandler state that there is
"some evidence that structure tends to become more complex as
technology becomes more complex." There appear to be several
reasons for this relationship. Likert sees one of these reasons
as being the necessity in complex technology to involve experts
from several different fields. As a result, there is a greater
need for cooperation and participation in research and development
ventures than when all the technology was possessed by a single
person. Not only is the technical knowledge spread around, but
the interfaces are increased dramatically. The problems of
interactions become enormous, particularly if the interfaces
become difficult to define precisely. In fact, it appears that
the greater the inability to define interfaces, the greater
reliance upon decentralized coordination. This reliance on
decentralization produces a further complication, the development
of an elaborate support staff to track the interfaces and the lower
level decisions. Most importantly, as C. West Churchman notes,
the modern scientist must use a systems approach to decision-making.
This requires five basic considerations (objectives, environment,
resources, activities, and management) for every decision.^
We may conclude from the above that R&D enterprises by
their very nature result in complex structures. The challenge to
the organizational designer is not then how to create a simple
structure for this is not possible. Rather, given the requirement
for a complex structure, the question is how to make it manageable.
This then is our next (sixth) question for the Johnson Space
Environmental Impacts on R&D Organizations
The impact of the environment on structure is another
element that was largely ignored by organization research until the
1960's. Lawrence and Lorsch suggest that the characteristics of an
organizational unit would in some way need to match up with those
of its segment of the environment if healthy transactional rela-
tions were to prevail. The structure of those units dealing with
the environment must be designed to deal with the characteristics
of its relevant environmental sector rather than be governed by
internal organizational considerations. For example, in order to
deal more adequately with an uncertain and rapidly changing sector
of the environment, a flat organization is employed to maximize the
communication channels and to operate with fewer formal rules. In
order to survive and be successful, organizations need to develop
the capacity to carry on fully adequate transactions at the
important environment interfaces (e.g., sales, purchasing, finance,
personnel, labor relations, legal, and research) with some special
advantage in regard to one or two of them.
Emery and Trist consider that the main problem in the
study of organizational change is that the environmental con-
straints of the organization are changing under the impact of
technological change. A typology of environments is suggested
ranging from a placid, randomized environment, where the good and
bad things in the environment are relatively unchanging and ran-
domly distributed, to a turbulent environment, which consists of
competing organizations, each trying to "outgame" the other and of
basic alteration in the environmental framework.
Organizations must react to these environments by imple-
menting different management systems. For example, some environ-
ments cause organizations to grow and become more centralized
whereas other environments cause a matrix style organization to be
James Thompson established a relationship between the
firm's technology and its environment. Thompson viewed organiza-
tions as a set of interdependent parts, which in turn is interde-
pendent with some larger environment. The central system of the
organization and the part that must be protected from the environ-
ment is the organization's core technology. Thompson believed
that organizations attempted to protect their core technology
through a variety of devices including buffering and regulation
James Webb, NASA's Administrator during the Apollo era,
had a different solution for NASA than Thompson had in mind. To
Webb, the level of instability in the environment caused by tech-
nological and political uncertainties was accepted.95 NASA's
response was flexibility, the capability "to adjust to and to move
forward in an unpredictable and turbulent environment".
Webb's system prompts our next question. Was the JSC
organization flexible as contemplated by Webb, or did JSC choose to
protect its technology as contemplated by Thompson?
Other Factors Affecting R&D Structure v
A final set of variables which affect structure are orga-
nization age, organization size, and the informal organization.
These factors tend to be independent of the organization designer's
ability to control, but knowledge of their presence and potential
impact is essential.
Size. Litterer noted that changes in the size of an
organization invariably also results in changes in the structure
of the organization. Large organizations require different
organizational structures than small organizations. This concept
is illustrated by examining what happens as an organization
increases in size. As an organization grows, the means of coor-
dination usually becomes increasingly inadequate until finally it
is so inefficient that either growth must stop or a new means of
coordination be provided. Generally, this entails the institution
of a new organizational form. Thus, the intrinsic coordination
soon breaks down which then leads to coordination through hier^-
archical means and the development of complex organizations. Con-
tinued increases in size soon reach the point where the requisite
coordination cannot be provided through universal managers and
hierarchical forms. This situation in turn leads to the develop-
ment of formal coordinative systems and staffs--specialist manag-
ers. Further increases in size would make this combination of
formal coordinative systems, hierarchical coordination, and
intrinsic coordination inadequate for the total coordinative
demand and thus lead to a newer organizational form.
form could result into the separation of smaller, more easily
coordinated product or purpose departments.
Implicit in this scenario is the fact that as the orga-
nization increases in complexity, it increases in confusion. Steps
to reduce this confusion often take the form of a more bureaucratic
form of organization; i.e., the installation of precise rules and
regulations, defined duties and responsibilities, and hierarchical
coordination. Our eighth question relates to this scenario. As
the JSC organization grew, did it tend to become more bureaucratic
Age. Age appears to affect organization structure in two
ways. First, age appears to affect organizations in the same
method noted by Litterer regarding growth, that is, as organizations
age, their rules and regulations become more formalized. Second,
there appears to be a relationship between the period of time in
which an organization was founded and its structure.
Arthur Stinchcombe reports that:
Organizational types generally originate rapidly in a
relatively short historical period, to grow and change
slowly after that period. Organizations which are
founded at a particular time must construct their social
systems with the social resources available. Particularly,
they have to build their elites so that they can recruit
necessary resources from society and to build the struc-
ture of the organization so that they can recruit skills
and motivate workers. Once such going concerns are set
up in a particular area, they may preserve their struc-
ture. .by any one of three processes: (a) they may still
be the most efficient form of organization for a given
purpose; (b) traditionalizing forces, the vesting of
interests, and the working out of ideologies may tend to
preserve the structure; and (c) the organization may not
be in a competitive environment such that it has to become
better in order to survive.
Anthony Downs' findings on the life cycle of bureau paral-
lels Stinchcombe's work. Downs noted that successful bureaus tend
to attain an initial survival threshold by becoming large enough
to render useful services and old enough to have established
routinized relationships with its major interest groups. As a
general rule," according to Downs,
a bureau arrives at this threshold after a period of
rapid growth in both its size and the relative social
significance of its functions. This usually occurs in
response to external environment conditions,favorable
to the expansion of the bureau's functions. 1
The ninth question is oriented toward Stinchcombe. Did
JSC follow the model contemplated by Stinchcombe, or did JSC, in
fact, develop differently?
Informal Organizations: A Final Consideration for Structure
The existence of the informal organization and its impact
on the organization has been well integrated into organizational
research. Structure plays a major role in the development of the
informal organization. One of Chester Barnard's tenets was that
"when formal organizations come into operation, they create and
require informal organizations." The informal organization is
required both to conduct the business of the organization and to
give employees the social contact they require. But there are
limits. According to Herbert Simon:
The formal structure performs no function unless it
actually sets limits to the informal relations that
are permitted to develop within it. In particular,
it is an important function of the formal organiza-
tion to prevent the development of organizational
politics struggle for influence and authority
to a point that would be,deleterious to the function-
ing of the organization.
On the other hand, the structure itself may have a nega-
tive impact on employee performance and attitudes. The type of
structure chosen has been demonstrated to have an impact on
employees' goal orientation, conflict management, organization
formality, time orientation, feeling of stress, commitment of
goals, and integration attitude. The structure thus may serve
to block an employee's desire to establish and maintain the work-
ing relationship required by the structure. Without a commitment
from the employee, the structure serves no purpose.
Alternate Forms of Structure Available for R&D Organizations
Up to this point, we have discussed management theory and
the factors influencing organization structure. Although there
are a number of significant factors that can affect organization
structure, the number of alternate structure forms is quite small,
four or five. An explanation of the reasons for the limited
number of alternate structures is given by Lawrence and Lorsch.
They developed the proposition that there are just two fundamentals
of organizingthe differentiation of activities and their subse-
Differentiation is defined as the state of segmentation
of the organizational system into subsystems, each of
which tends to develop particular attributes in relation
to the requirements posed by its relevant external
There appear to be two forms of differentiation, horizontal and
Horizontal differentiation results in the division of
work into separate units. The method of the separation of work
was one of the primary concerns of the "scientific management" or
"principles" school. The three traditional bases of departmen-
talization by function, product, or location are still most
universally used. Division on the basis of customers, processes,
or equipment is also currently used by some organizations. Verti-
cal differentiation establishes the managerial structure and the
Integration is defined by Lawrence and Lorsch as "the
process of achieving unity of effort among the various subsystems
in the accomplishment of the organization's tasks.The method
and means of coordination are dependent upon the technical system
and other major variables. Five different mechanisms exist for
achieving coordination: the hierarchy; the administrative system;
voluntary activities; committees, task forces and teams; and proj-
ect offices. In simple organizations, the hierarchy; i.e.,
linking units under a central authority and the administrative
system, perform much of the routine coordination automatically.
Additional coordination occurs voluntarily through the informal
structure. For more complex systems, temporary committees, etc.,
representing several different departments may be constituted to
achieve coordination. Long-range, complex projects requiring
detailed coordination necessitate the establishment of special
offices to formalize the coordination activities. Thus, as there
are only five ways of coordinating activities, there is a limit to
the number of organization structures.
Henry Mintzberg synthesizes the various factors affecting
structure by postulating five different structural configurations.
All organizations, according to Mintzberg, have five basic parts
which he calls: the operating core; the strategic apex; the mid-
dle line; the technostructure; and the support staff. These basic
parts are graphically depicted in Figure 4.
Mintzberg gives the following description of these five
At the base of the logo is the operating core, wherein
the operators carry out the basic work of the organiza-
tion the input, processing, output, and direct support
tasks associated with producing the products or services.
Above them sits the administrative component, which is
shown in three parts. First, are the managers, divided
into two groups. Those at the very top of the hierarchy,
together with their own personal staff, form the strate-
gic apex. And those below, who join the strategic apex
to the operating core through the chain of command (such
as it exists), make up the middle line. To their left
stands the technostructure, wherein the analysts carry
out their work of standardizing the work of others, in
addition to applying their analytical techniques to help
the organization adapt to its environment. Finally, we
add a fifth group, the support staff, shown to the right
of the middle line. This staff supports the functioning
of the operating core indirectlv, that is, outside the
basic flow of operating work. ^
The interactions of various "pulls" in the organization
result in five alternate structural configurations. These configu-
rations are: simple structure; machine bureaucracy; professional
bureaucracy; divisionalized form; and adhocracy. In each structure
different parts are dominant. Mintzberg describes the simple struc
ture as emerging when the strategic apex wants to retain control
Five Basic Parts of an Organization
as Depicted in a Mintzberg Logo
Source: Henry Mintzberg. The Structuring of Organizations.
A Synthesis of the Research. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Prentice-Hall, 1979) p. 20
through centralization of the decision-making process. This is
achieved when the hierarchial structure is relied upon for coordina-
tion. On the other hand, when coordination is achieved through a
standardization of work processes, the resultant structure is
oriented toward some horizontal decentralization. These structures
Mintzberg calls a machine bureaucracy with the technostructure
exerting the dominant "pull." Alternately, when standardization of
skills is the key factor in coordination, the operating core becomes
dominant. This group promotes both horizontal and vertical decen-
tralization. This "pull" by the operating core results in a profes-
A "pull" from the middle line causes the divisionalized
form of structure to materialize. Autonomy is sought by the middle
line by pulling power down from the apex. The structure, in effect,
then becomes split into small units which can control their own
decisions. Coordination is achieved through the standardization of
The final Mintzberg structure is the adhocracy, where the
support staff has the most influence. The support staff is not
autonomous, but its input is required in all decisions. The struc-
ture becomes divided on a selective basis, some staff becoming free
to coordinate among themselves by means of mutual adjustment.110
Mintzberg's structures, like that of Lawrence, are
oriented toward the type of coordination mechanism used to integrate
the work. A different basis for organization was found by Stanley
and White. Their studies indicated the method of the division of
work was the primary determinant in organization structure.
Stanley and White, in their previously cited survey of 50
industrial R&D organizations, found four basic unit structures.***
These structures were defined as: subject/discipline; product/type;
project or problem; and stage or phase.
The subject/discipline structure was used by the largest
number of organizations, particularly in research-oriented opera-
tions. It was considered to work well in circumstances where (a)
the work needed fitted completely within an available unit and (b)
the tasks of several disciplines tended to be independent or time
The product structure was used almost as frequently as the
subject structure and was commonly found in the development end of
the R&D structure. In this structure, a team is established having
a sufficient number of disciplines to cope with most of the antici-
pated problems. This technique is useful when multidisciplinary
problems are steadily encountered and they fit reasonably well with-
in one product s area.
The project/problem structure was frequently employed for
attaching multidisciplinary problems on a large scale. This form
was usually found in combination with other structures. A
specialized team is formed to solve a specific problem, to carry out
a certain investigation, or to complete a phase of development. The
project team is a specialized form of a project unit as it may rely
upon specialists in other organizations for work performance.
The stage or phase structure is a grouping of staff accord-
ing to the step in the creative process. Organizationally, struc-
turing by stage usually appears on the organization chart at a
higher chart level than the three other structures. This structure
is used in addition to other structures rather than instead of them.
It permits the working staff to stay in their respective organizations
and contribute as required to problem resolution. This structure is
highly transitional, usually disappearing once the work has been
These structures noted by Stanley and White represent a
combination of differentiation and integration mechanisms. In
practice, organizations use a combination of these mechanisms to
produce a structure fitted to the organization's needs. It is
interesting to note that the Stanley, et al., study was performed
in the period, mid-1960's, just after JSC was organized. These
structures are representative of what existed at the time and what
the designers of JSC would have seen if they had conducted a survey
of R&D structures. Thus, our next question is formulated; i.e., to
what extent did JSC rely upon existing organization designs?
The Mintzberg and Stanley, et al., works represent state-
of-the-art discussions on organization structure. The question then
exists as to where we go from here. There exist two theories on
structural alternatives which forecast the future direction of
structure. One of these is the contingency theory,11** the other
is termed the "managerial pull theory."11^
Jay Galbraith subscribes to the contingency theory which
states that (1) There is no one best way to organize, and (2) any
way of organizing is not equally effective. The key variable in
the determination of organizational design is that of task uncer-
tainty. Uncertainty is considered to be the difference between the
amount of information required to accomplish a task and the amount
of information owned by the organization. The amount of task
uncertainty is a function of the diversity of task products or
services; the diversity of task inputs; and the degree of task
complexity or performance. The basic effect of uncertainty is to
limit the ability of the organization to make plans or otherwise
make decisions regarding future actions. Organizations will, there-
fore, be designed to adopt a strategy to cope with uncertainty and
its attendant costs.
Robert Golembiewski describes the managerial pull theory"
as seeking to integrate personal needs and organizational demands.
This theory revolves around four dimensions: integration; wriggle
room; newness; and flow of work. The structure is organized around
integrative departments; that is, it groups together activities that
are related in a total flow of work. Further, the model seeks the
minimum control; i.e., authoritative relations, that is consistent
with output quality and quantity. Additionally, this structure
allows a relatively large number of people to report to the manager,
thus allowing the organization to remain relatively flat. The
advantage of this structure is that it permits the participants the
proper amount of "wriggle room"; i.e., the ability to have some
choice about the conditions of one's work environment. "Managerial
pull theory" appears to be one name for a theory addressing Weber's
basic concern. However, other than the name, it appears to offer
Our final question is a corollary to the previous question:
As JSC was on the leading edge of technology, was it also on the
leading edge of organization design?
This review of the literature has resulted in questions by
which the analysis of the JSC organization will be accomplished.
Each of these questions relates to the literature on management
theory and many are oriented toward the uniqueness of research and
development. These questions which have been previously mentioned,
and their theorical basis discussed, are listed below.
1. To what degree did the designers of the JSC structure
rely upon the "principles" developed by classical management theory?
2. Were the dysfunctional aspects of the characteristics
of bureaucracy as elaborated by Weber considered in the JSC
3. To what extent did the unique requirements to insure
creativity and ingenuity from scientists and engineers influence
the JSC structure and its development?
4. Did the development of JSC follow the pattern of orga-
nization development postulated by systems theory?
5. Were project offices established on a linking pin con-
cept or on a more traditional hierarchical system?
6. How did JSC insure that it would retain management con-
trol over complex structures and interfaces?
7. Was the JSC organization flexible as contemplated by
Webb, or did JSC utilize broader based means (as contemplated by
Thompson) to protect its technology?
8. Did the JSC organization become more bureaucratic as it
9. Did JSC follow the model contemplated by Stinchcombe
regarding organization structure and age?
10. To what extent did JSC rely upon existing (1960*s)
11. As JSC was on the leading edge of technology, was it
also on the leading edge of organization design?
These questions will guide the study analysis. But, as
earlier mentioned, the study conclusions and implications will not
be limited to addressing these questions.
^Donald R. Schoen, "Managing Technological Innovation,"
Harvard Business Review (May-June 1969) pp. 156-171.
Claude S. George, Jr., The History of Management
Thought (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972).
Although George has been taken as a guide, Daniel A.
Wren's The Evolution of Management Thought (New York: Ronald Press
Company, 1972) also executed a major influence on the historical
approach to a literature research. In fact, Wren touched deeply
upon an organizational problem of research and development firms;
i.e., the clash between the value orientations of the scientists
and that of the firm's managers. According to Wren, the scientist
is oriented toward his profession while managers are oriented
toward the firm. This clash may result in conflicts with goals,
communications, and work direction. Pp. 499-500.
Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970).
51bid. pp. 23-34.
^In addition to George and Wren, some of the other works
used to research management thought included:
F. E. Kast and J. E. Rosenzweig, Organization and Management.
A Systems Approach (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970).
Nicholas Henry, Public Organizations; Theories, Concepts, and
People (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1980).
D. R. Hampton, C. E. Summer and R. A. Webber, Organizational
Behavior and the Practice of Management (Glenview, 111.: Scott,
Foresman and Company, 1973).
James March (ed.) Handbook of Organizations (Chicago:
N. P. Mouzelis, Organization and Bureaucracy: An Analysis of
Modern Theories (Chicago: Aldine Publishing, 1968).
Walter E. Natemeyer (ed.) Classics of Organizational Behavior
(Oak Park, 111.: Moore Publishing, 1978)7
Charles Perrow, Complex Organizations: A Critical Essay
(Glenview, 111.: Scott, Foresman & Company, 1979).