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Title: Easier done than said : a sociological analysis of tacit knowledge in railway maintenance systems
Author: Wilson, Aaron John
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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The railway industry is largely neglected by current sociology, yet promising topics for sociological investigation abound: the organisational structure of the railway industry; risk management and the reaction to rail accidents in a “risk society”; the development and introduction of new rail technologies; the problem of rail project management (e.g. the troubles of the massive west coast mainline renewal project); and so on. Despite this there is almost no “railway sociology” in the UK, a striking omission both in itself and in comparison with the wealth of work produced by the railway historian. Our of the many possible research avenues, “railway maintenance” was chosen to be analysed sociologically. The project was conceived in the aftermath of the fatal accident at Welham Curve near Hatfield, England in October, 2000. A fault directly related to the wheel/rail interface cause the rail to break. Though a technical failure it transpired that issues connected to the organisational culture of the industry – such as the management and distribution of rail maintenance knowledge – were of direct consequence. How leaders of an organisation perceive its objectives, and how employee roles, tasks, and specialisms are structured can have a huge impact on how an individual or a group conducts their work. These matters become intertwined and workplace cultures can develop and become embedded which can affect a group’s worldview and language codes, which can, in turn, impact on inter-organisational communication and interaction. The effects this has on technical decision-making which requires tacit knowledge is substantial; at all levels in an organisation the nature of choice is effectively a product of the environment within which it is made.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available