Institute for Software Research International
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Ineffective Organizational Practices at NASA:
A Dynamic Network Analysis

Craig Schreiber, Kathleen M. Carley

February 2005

Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems
CASOS Technical Report


Keywords: Dynamic network analysis, complex adaptive systems, simulation, NASA, organizational risk, organizational structure, organizational performance, leadership

Organizational problems such as ineffective leadership, structural integration, communication barriers and practical drift have plagued NASA for many years. The concurrent existence and micro/macro nature of these problems makes analysis difficult. This whitepaper describes dynamic network analysis and how it can be applied to study ineffective organizational practices at NASA. Dynamic network analysis is a comprehensive methodology that can be used to model complex organizational problems. The methodology can handle multi-mode, multi-link networks therefore organizational risk can be modeled at various levels: team, department, divisional, and organizational. Analysis is done at several levels thus allowing for complex reasoning about the micro and macro co-evolution of the socio-technical system.

Next, an example model of NASA's Team X is developed and analyzed. The model explores the implications of individual leadership style on structural integration. Results show that leadership style can effect structural integration within the team; an effect that has both team adaptive and performance implications. Modeling and analysis can be expanded to study other current organizational problems at NASA such as communication barriers and practical drift.

14 pages

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