Enlightenment on power: Or a look at the electricity supply industry.

  • R. G. S. Johnston

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This research began as a study into working patterns in U.K. power stations, but developed into a comparative study following visits to three U.S. stations. The jobs and working systems at four C.E.G.B. (U.K.) stations and three comparable U.S. stations have been examined in some detail by conducting a substantial number of interviews. All power stations are technologically similar and differences in structure or systems have to be accounted for by other factors. A work analysis was carried out based on core activities (central to the function); system maintenance and regulating activities and activities intended to effect plant improvements. Diagrammatic representations of the organizations enabled certain problem areas to be predicted. Results were compared with other research in associated fields. Significant organizational differences were found between U.S. and U.K. stations; the U.S. were task orientated and the U.K. were control or rule orientated. Staff levels in U.K. stations were higher and the total workload was greater. These effects were associated with the bureaucratic nature of the U.K. organizations and a different approach to major outages. U.S. stations were staffed for operation and routine maintenance; C.E.G.B. stations for those activities plus major outages. A review of the industry's history and development in the U.K. and U.S. showed interesting differences and indicated some probable causes for the present U.K. structures. Also discovered were some similarities between pre-nationalization U.K. stations and present day U.S. ones. The U.K. need for rapid expansion of generating capacity and attempts to improve labour productivity in the industry were two of the main reasons for the present structures, a third being the problems associated with the power station plant and construction. In this research two 'subjects were frequently raised by C.E.G.B. staff, namely pay and shift work. These have been treated as special subjects as has the problem of overmanning.
Date of Award1980
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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