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Title: Stability and change in large technical systems : the privatisation of Great Britain's railways
Author: Lovell, Katherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 5722
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2015
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Established infrastructure systems, such as telecommunications, energy and transportation, play an important economic and social role in the societies they support. Recent infrastructure privatisations and restructurings provide opportunities for improving our understanding of how change occurs in well-established mature systems. Some outcomes, including accidents and failures, have taken system-builders and policy-makers alike by surprise. This research seeks to improve understanding of infrastructure system change by studying a momentum changing event: the privatisation and restructuring of Great Britain's railway system. The Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) and Large Technical Systems (LTS) theory are used together to examine system development before, during and after restructuring. A novel method is developed using LTS theory to structure data generation from contemporarily written archive sources. Two empirical studies are conducted. The first study analyses the gradual development of this mature system; it highlights the importance of the installed system in development and identifies several system-builders. The second study considers changes in system development that occurred across system privatisation and restructuring; it finds that changes emerged in actors and in activity within the socio-technical regime and it highlights some critical changes linked to later system failure. This work provides three contributions to existing research. (1)The method developed provides a systematic approach to studying established LTS across the broad scope and long periods necessary to capture change; it has the potential to be applied in other studies and could facilitate cross-sector and cross-study comparisons. (2)An extension of LTS theory is proposed that improves its application to the cases of established infrastructure systems and can enhance understanding of the way they change. (3)In considering potential system transformation of the system privatisation, the use of LTS and MLP framework is advocated. LTS theory is used to operationalise the socio-technical regime concept to address some of the limitations of the MLP framework.
Supervisor: Barlow, James ; Davies, Andrew Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available