The culture within NASA is made up of several subcultures defined by the individual units among the organization however; there is a dominant culture that represents NASA as a whole. To clarify, subcultures make up a unique set of values within parts of the organization were as a dominant culture is a distinctive set of values that reflect the perceptions shared throughout the entire organization. The dominant cultures outlined by NASA include a culture of safety, a culture of schedule efficiency, and a culture of open communication (Patterson). These three platforms are the fundamentals behind what management has labeled the "can do" culture of NASA.
Using the competing values framework, the type of organization culture represented by NASA is labeled as a market culture. According to the competing values framework, the culture of an organization can be identified by two different sets of values. One is that of flexibility and discretion versus stability and control. The other identifies the focus on internal affairs as opposed to the external environment. NASA can be identified as a market culture because it has an interest in stability and control yet is heavily influences by its external environment. This interest in stability and control for the NASA organization has come under a great deal of scrutiny since the Columbia Disaster. James Oberg wrote, "experienced space workers, both those still inside the program as well as retired, say this widespread attitude of being too smart to need outside advice has created a culture resistant to outside advice and experience. He went on to clarify that "most workers at NASA have only worked at NASA since graduation." And "the culture can also be powerful because it is so pervasive, since it is rarely exposed to outside influences." These comments illustrate the need for stability and control within NASA. Of course, NASA is a government-funded agency, which is, where the external environment gets involved...
Cited: NASA culture blamed in Columbia disaster
Columbia Accident Investigation Board - Report
The 'Columbia ' Disaster: Report 1
It 's the Culture
Remaking NASA one step at a time http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3158779/print/1/displaymode/1098
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