Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Mechanical, Material and Mechatronic Engineering - Faculty of Engineering


This work involved the evaluation of the efficacy of industrial information management. The study was prompted by the observation that contemporary society seemingly struggles to effectively utilise and manage the volumes of information that new technologies are delivering. It is reasonable to assume that industry, as a mirror of contemporary society, may be struggling to manage the convergence of equivalent information technologies. Traditionally, within industry, structured organisations of people use work processes to record plant history in computerised work management systems. This work employs a socio technical perspective to examine conflict that is likely to be occurring within such structured groups of people. Social (socio) in respect of participants’ behavioural changes, technical in respect of understanding data selection for machine condition management.

Field research used constructivist evaluation methodology in three phases. Evaluation of current information management practice, in three electricity-generating power stations, was followed by an ethnological study to determine why industrial information management developed in the way that it had. By way of comparison, a third field research phase evaluated financial and medical information management processes.

At the evaluated sites, industrial information management was found to be an inadequately developed concept. Processes were found to be managed without application of explicitly stated strategies or audit protocols. Staff considered recording of work to be a transactional process directed at monitoring human performance rather than being a process for analysis to facilitate plant condition management and to develop plant knowledge.

Conclusions based primarily upon the ethnographical study indicate that the effects of informal social influence, power conflict, scientific work process and job design all contribute to an imbalance that develops between explicit recording and the complementary development of a tacit knowledge base. In contrast, medical ward management employed a combination of socio technical principles and informal double loop analyses to address corresponding conflict.

Outcomes of the study indicate that an evaluative matrix, developed for the study, would be suitable for professional audit of site information strategies and processes. Complementing the evaluative matrix has been the development of a practical methodology, based upon socio technical principles, which would be suitable for the development of convergent site information and production strategies.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.