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The Fragmentation of a Railway: A Study of Organizational Change

31 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2005  

David Tyrrall

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School

David Parker

Cranfield University

Abstract

This paper considers pathways of organizational change within British Rail (BR) during its long period of commercialization culminating in privatization. The Laughlin (1991) and Parker (1995a) frameworks are used to demonstrate how a new interpretative scheme supplanted the previous interpretative scheme within BR between the 1970s and privatization in the mid-1990s, leading to a fragmented organization. BR did not survive and privatization of Britain's railways remains controversial. The study demonstrates that without the earlier changes in interpretive scheme from 'social railway' to 'business railway' to 'profitable business', and the associated changes in design archetypes and sub-systems, privatization would have been both less tempting and less feasible. It is intended that the approach developed here to analyse organizational change in BR should be applicable to the study of other privatizations and to other forms of organizational change in both the public and private sectors.

Suggested Citation

Tyrrall, David and Parker, David, The Fragmentation of a Railway: A Study of Organizational Change. Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 507-537, May 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=704690

David Tyrrall (Contact Author)

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 20 7040 0221 (Phone)
+44 (0) 20 7040 8881 (Fax)

David Parker

Cranfield University ( email )

Cranfield
Bedfordshire MK43 OAL, MK43 0AL
United Kingdom

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