Testing incremental politics : the case of North Sea oil
In the quest to secure the much vaunted benefits of North Sea oil, highly non-incremental technologies have been adopted. Nowhere is this more the case than with the early fields of the central and northern North Sea. By focusing on the inflexible nature of North Sea hardware, in such fields, this thesis examines the problems that this sort of technology might pose for policy making. More particularly, the following issues are raised. First, the implications of non-incremental technical change for the successful conduct of oil policy is raised. Here, the focus is on the micro-economic performance of the first generation of North Sea oil fields and the manner in which this relates to government policy. Secondly, the question is posed as to whether there were more flexible, perhaps more incremental policy alternatives open to the decision makers. Conclusions drawn relate to the degree to which non-incremental shifts in policy permit decision makers to achieve their objectives at relatively low cost. To discover cases where non-incremental policy making has led to success in this way, would be to falsify the thesis that decision makers are best served by employing incremental politics as an approach to complex problem solving.