The purpose of this paper is to discuss the impact of organizational change on the competence of controllers in rail infrastructure operations. Controllers are a critical link in providing rail services. They guide train traffic 7/24 in real time from within control rooms by daily responding to a multitude of disturbances. Market reforms have radically changed their work conditions by unbundling and re-bundling control rooms.
Ethnographically inspired research has been performed at the work stations of controllers in both unbundled and re-bundled, both Dutch and British control rooms between 2007 and 2011. The author observed how controllers deal with moderate disturbances and discusses the nature of their underlying professional capacities, what guides their decision making in discretion. Implications are discussed how organizational change affects these capacities in case of unbundling and re-bundling control rooms.
The paper shows how to gain a more explicit understanding of what controllers, as professionals, essentially think and do. An open-interactive account of professional capacity emerges, in contrast to the private-cognitive view widespread in literature. Both conceptualizations of professional capacities have radically different implications for their susceptibility to organizational change.
This paper reveals an urgent perspective on the impact of market reforms, through the accompanying organizational change, on professional capacity at the operational level of providing public rail services.
This research has been supported by the Next Generation Infrastructures Program.
Steenhuisen, B. (2014), "Cutting dark matter. Professional capacity and organizational change", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 152-168. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOE-03-2012-0016Download as .RIS
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