Uncharted Territory

What lies beyond the boundaries of traditional management are the things that of­ten do not get discussed. Relationships were described in a previous section in the context of privacy. However, managers could still pretend that they do not know what may be going on behind the closed door. Unfortunately, once large numbers of people work and live within a lunar facility, traditional limits on what a manag­er needs to know in terms of private information or even private behavior may change. The distinction between public and private may not be able to maintain the same boundaries on the Moon as it does on earth. The limited number of people available might suggest or even require extreme care in selection of indi­viduals with no communicable diseases. Managers may need information that typ­ically is protected under many countries’ privacy laws, at least during the selection process and subsequent training and preparation phases. The limited size of the community might also require some management in terms of employee blood types. Much as the military needs specific health information from soldiers as a consequence of possible injury or wounds, so too would the health providers within the lunar facility. It would be unreasonable to not prepare for possible emergencies by having a balance of blood types even to the extent of limiting or monitoring rare blood groups. Working on the moon will preclude putting out a general call for help in the event of a blood emergency. Blood substitutes now be­coming available might solve that problem or just make it more manageable. And, blood access is an example of a nontraditional issue that will not go away and will need to be addressed.

Certainly more controversial will be managerial issues as they relate to inter­personal relations between the people living and working in the lunar environ­ment. Gender balance and the implicit issues regarding the sexual makeup of a crew, workforce, or community may become an ongoing managerial concern.

The issue of whether a crew should be all-male, all-female or mixed remains a conten­tious matter. Some have argued a female crew would exhibit preferable interpersonal dy­namics and be more likely to choose non-confrontational approaches to solve interpersonal problems. Others have made a case for a mixed crew, claiming crews with women are cha­racterized by less competition and seem to get along better. Evidence from Antarctic win­ter-over crews supports each of these arguments and suggests women, in addition to their mission function, would serve a socializing purpose. However, the introduction of a single female into a male group may have destabilizing effects because of sex issues – a topic that space agencies are notoriously reluctant to discuss (Seedhouse 2010, pp. 175-176)!

The subtext often absent in all of these discussions is the lack of attention given to how people interact in real environments rather than the simulated environ­ments common to mission planning discussions. Planners are not overly naive in this regard and they expectedly try to avoid controversial topics. Many sensitive issues are either ignored, minimized or subsumed away as something to be dealt with at a later time as a consequence. The likelihood these issues will find their way to the desk of a manager who may not be as well prepared to deal with con­troversial and sensitive issues as she/he should be is high. Many of these seldom discussed topics will be exacerbated by the inherent complexity of multi-nation and multi-organization enterprises. A cornucopia of potentially incompatible in­ternational rules, regulations and laws will be added to this mix. Overlaying the legal framework will be a patchwork composed of religious and cultural expecta­tions which in themselves are not necessarily consistent or compatible with the ex­isting laws of many nations. It is possible to imagine all sorts of scenarios leading to bizarre outcomes if one were trying to accommodate all levels of complexity. For example, it might become necessary for managers to violate various discrimi­nation laws or to seek exceptions to existing laws to manage what would other­wise be the managerial equivalent of an asylum. These are not issues or situations that most managers are prepared to deal with. The simple problem of managing may become a secondary consideration in the face of these types of confounding circumstances.

Updated: September 24, 2015 — 12:21 am