Managing Large Systems examines a range of human, organizational, and managerial challenges associated with large systems. Special attention is given to the behavioral relationships among scientists and engineers, business and technical managers, sponsor organizations and their contractors, business and government officials, and line and functional managers.
The descriptions of problems of technical organization and performance motivation are based primarily on an extended field study of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Managing Large Systems includes a description of the unique management system developed by NASA under the leadership of James Webb that many believe was responsible for their extraordinary technological achievements that culminated in the first moon landing. Parallels are drawn to other large-scale technology programs in aerospace and atomic energy.
The authors find traditional managerial principles regarding controls, incentive systems, and planning to be inadequate in the context of large systems. They look to organizational clusters to manage future projects in advanced technological areas and in public sectors such as urban development, massive medical programs, and ecological improvements.