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Resilience in critical infrastructures : the case of the Queensland electricity industry

Sinclair, Natalie (2009) Resilience in critical infrastructures : the case of the Queensland electricity industry. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

The reliability of Critical Infrastructure is considered to be a fundamental expectation of modern societies. These large-scale socio-technical systems have always, due to their complex nature, been faced with threats challenging their ongoing functioning. However, increasing uncertainty in addition to the trend of infrastructure fragmentation has made reliable service provision not only a key organisational goal, but a major continuity challenge: especially given the highly interdependent network conditions that exist both regionally and globally. The notion of resilience as an adaptive capacity supporting infrastructure reliability under conditions of uncertainty and change has emerged as a critical capacity for systems of infrastructure and the organisations responsible for their reliable management. This study explores infrastructure reliability through the lens of resilience from an organisation and system perspective using two recognised resilience-enhancing management practices, High Reliability Theory (HRT) and Business Continuity Management (BCM) to better understand how this phenomenon manifests within a partially fragmented (corporatised) critical infrastructure industry – The Queensland Electricity Industry. The methodological approach involved a single case study design (industry) with embedded sub-units of analysis (organisations), utilising in-depth interviews and document analysis to illicit findings. Derived from detailed assessment of BCM and Reliability-Enhancing characteristics, findings suggest that the industry as a whole exhibits resilient functioning, however this was found to manifest at different levels across the industry and in different combinations. Whilst there were distinct differences in respect to resilient capabilities at the organisational level, differences were less marked at a systems (industry) level, with many common understandings carried over from the pre-corporatised operating environment. These Heritage Factors were central to understanding the systems level cohesion noted in the work. The findings of this study are intended to contribute to a body of knowledge encompassing resilience and high reliability in critical infrastructure industries. The research also has value from a practical perspective, as it suggests a range of opportunities to enhance resilient functioning under increasingly interdependent, networked conditions.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 35667
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Barnes, Paul& Bradley, Lisa
Keywords: critical infrastructure, resilience, reliability, electricity, Queensland electricity industry, high reliability theory, business continuity management, risk and crisis management, institutional fragmentation, corporatisation, government-owned corporation, Wildavsky, Holling, qualitative research, case study research, interviews, document analysis, resilience-enhancing practices, government ownership, inheritance, sectoral conditions, collective commitment and culture
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Sep 2010 16:33
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:57

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