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Making a hybrid out of a crisis: historical contingency and the institutional logics of London’s public transport monopoly

Fowler, James and Gillett, Alex (2021) 'Making a hybrid out of a crisis: historical contingency and the institutional logics of London’s public transport monopoly.' Journal of Management History, 27 (4). pp. 492-518. ISSN 1751-1348

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Purpose Literature seldom admits the importance of historical contingency and politics in the creation of hybrid organisations. Nevertheless, the circumstances of their creation play a pivotal role in the subsequent operation, priorities and success of these prolific organisations. Through a single case study, this paper aims to explore the connection between the multiple and concurrent crises that created London Transport and the subsequent balance of its institutional logics. Design/methodology/approach This case study uses in-depth data collection from multiple archival and public sources to offer quantitative and qualitative analysis of the priorities, logics and services offered by London Transport before and after its transition from a private to a hybrid organisation. Findings Providing London’s transport via a quasi-autonomous non-governmental monopoly was justified as being more efficient than competition. However, by applying accounting ratios to the archival records from London Transport, the authors find that there were few decisive efficiencies gained from amalgamation. Instead, the authors argue that the balance of institutional logics within the new, unified organisation showed a political response outwardly addressing market failure but primarily concerned with marginalising democratic control. This reality was obscured behind the rhetoric of rationality and efficiency as politically neutral justifications for creating a public service monopoly. Originality/value This paper challenges supposedly objective systems for judging the effectiveness of “hybrid” organisations and offers an alternative political and historical perspective of the reasons for their creation. The authors suggest that London Transport’s success in obscuring its enduring market-based institutional logics has wider resonance in the development of municipal capitalism.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Institutional Logics; Politics; Crisis; Hybridity; London Transport
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2021 12:54
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:26

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