Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management

Doctoral theses

In 2015, 50 candidates were awarded a doctoral degree by the Faculty. Please see the following list with summaries of some of the most recent theses. Search in Diva for more.

Deus Damian Komba

Risk judgement, Risk taking behaviour and Road Traffic Accidents in Tanzania
- Geographical Analysis

Deus Damian Komba

Urban road traffic and driving culture in Tanzania is partly characterised by low level of safety behaviour. The present study has investigated road users’; 1) underlying pattern and tendencies of their risk perception, risk attitudes, risk willingness and risk taking behaviour by geographical areas, gender and age groups. 2) The important factors contributing to their risk taking behaviour on road traffic when experiencing different levels of system risk and 3) the extent such factors are attributed to contextual conditions in each type of geographical area and to compositional condition.

The thesis builds its conceptual model based on an extensive review of literature related to the main philosophical orientations in Human Geography. Four theoretical approaches were used: 1) system approach guided by a model for safe traffic system, 2) risk theory and cultural approach, 3) political ecology approach and 4) modernization approach. The methodology of the study was based on triangulation approach. Data collection methods involved a questionnaire survey, interviews, focus group discussion and observation. A sample of 671 respondents were surveyed and a sample of 17 informants were interviewed. In the analysis; 1) the reliability and the validity of the measure instrument in a survey data were examined by a set of statistical techniques; this included exploratory factor analysis. 2) Both MANOVA and ANOVA, along with descriptive statistics and post-hoc test were used to compare means of risk perception, risk attitude, risk willingness and risk taking behaviour by geographical areas, gender and age groups. 3) Step wise linear regression analysis was used to select the best-fit model in explaining risk-taking behaviour of Tanzanian public on traffic. 4) A four-step data analytic method by Baron and Kenny (1986) was used to examine mediation effect underlying an observed relationship between religious belief and risk taking behaviour. 5) Contextual as well as content analysis techniques were used to analyse the transcribed interviews with lay people as well as experts and other key informants.

The results revealed that; the attitude towards rule violation is higher in rural areas than in urban and semi-urban areas. 36.8% of the variance in risk taking behaviour associated with road traffic accidents is explained by the contribution of 1) risk attitude, 2) religious belief, 3) risk willingness and 4) geographical area. The factor religious belief had a greater effect on risk taking behaviour compared to other explanatory factors.

In general, the contribution of this thesis is not in formulating a new theory of road accident risk analysis but rather in giving road accident risk analysis a firm spatial dimension and generating detailed knowledge on this issue in low/income country. The overall conclusion is that, the geographical context of urban-rural difference in Tanzania plays a significant role in analysing road user behaviour. Road users in Tanzania perform or reproduce behaviours that are themselves a product of the relationship between their local environment and traffic related technology in traffic system that surrounds them.

Susanne Therese Hansen

Ambiguous legalization
- Assessing legalization and compliance in the European Union conventional arms export control regime

Susanne Therese Hansen

The European Union (EU) conventional arms export control regime has gradually legalized over the past two decades. That is, it has moved from softer to harder configurations of law. The regime calls upon member states to restrain their arms exports and exert precaution and responsibility in cases where the exported weapons could be employed in ways that are in conflict with the obligations under the regime. Thus, legalization has been interpreted as a resort to restraint, precaution and responsibility in arms export, and as motivated by logics of appropriateness. However, at the same time, examples of member states undermining the export control regime are many, and previous research has found that arms export is driven by material interests (i.e. logics of consequences). This triggers the following questions: Has legalization increased compliance in the EU arms export control regime? For what reasons did the regime legalize? This dissertation answers these questions by means of a multi-method approach.

On the basis of quantitative data on arms exports and arms export denials, as well as various qualitative data, I find that arms exports is less associated with moral restraint, precaution and responsibility than with material interests in upholding and strengthening national and European defence industries and cultivating a reputation as trustworthy arms suppliers. I also find that some member states' arms exports practices contribute to reducing the institutional credibility of the regime. If legalization is attributable to logics of appropriateness, these findings stand out as puzzling.

My dissertation offers a new and novel evidence-based argument to the empirical literature, which serves to cast new light on the effectiveness of arms export control regimes. First, I argue that the observed levels of non-compliance are attributable to the fact that the legalization of the EU arms export control regime was driven forward not only by a resort to restraint, precaution and responsibility (i.e. logics of appropriateness), as assumed in parts of the scholarship on conventional arms export control and by some proponents of legalization. At least equally so, it was driven forward by strategies to promote national and European defence industries (i.e. logics of consequences). In other words, legalization was ambiguous, and the regime legalized exactly because it could accommodate multiple ends. Second, I argue that the ambiguity of the legalization process is reflected in regime design and language. This in turn affects compliance negatively. Accepting these arguments, non-compliance becomes less of a paradox, hypocrisy judgments become less inevitable, the legalization process becomes less irrational, and the alleged "gap" between policy and practice becomes less of a gap.

Gunhild Birgitte Sætren

Safety during changes
- Development and implementation of automated technology in a high-risk organization

Gunhild Birgitte Sætren

This thesis aimed to explore safety during changes and more specific, safety in managing development and implementation of automated technology in a high-risk organization. A longitudinal case study of an implementation process of new technology on an offshore oil and gas installation was carried through. In all, 43 interviews, and participative observations offshore and onshore were conducted. Grounded theory was used to analyse the data.

The findings reported in the first paper indicated that according to the readiness to change theory of Armenakis and Harris (2009) the implementation process had been a success as the technology was accepted. However, findings further indicated that the trust from the crew members was too high, according to the theory of high reliability organizations (HRO) (Weick & Sutcliffe, 2007), and that a non-questioning culture contributed to a change process that resulted in a serious unwanted incident.

The second paper found that the development phase of the product could have benefitted from more thoroughly human factors and human reliability analyses. Mishaps that had occurred due to incorrect use of the product were found to partly be because the developers did not sufficiently comprehend who they were developing for. Insufficient human factors analyses was partly the reason why the product ended as more costly than necessary, not as user friendly as requested, and end users having insufficient knowledge on safe usage and potential risks of the technology.

The third paper presented a critical review on traditional change management theories and how they were considered insufficient regarding ensuring safety. The main reason was that the emphasis is on ensuring willingness to change which does not correspond with the emphasis on diversity and trained scepticism, which HRO recommend. The paper presents a model that, based on both theory and practice, gives a step by step guidance on how to conduct changes within organizations with a focus on safety.

The conclusion of the thesis is that HRO and human factors is recommended to be intertwined elements in change processes in high-risk organisations in order to ensure a safest possible change in high risk industries.

Godfrey Mugurusi

Offshoring & the aftermath:
Implications for the management of the puchasing and supply function

Godfrey Mugurusi

This thesis investigates the broad question: what happens to the purchasing and supply management (PSM) function when the firm engages in production offshoring?

This question emerges from varied and contemporary debates on the implications of the offshoring strategy on the firm’s value chain, the re-configuration of its capabilities in new environments, and the changes in firm level competences as a result of emerging complexity. The thesis particularly focuses on the PSM function, which despite its known strategic importance to firm performance, has not received a lot of attention on how it deals with the challenges that emerge from offshoring. Yet clearly, and as I empirically show, the events in the disintegration and geographical dispersal of firm activities for cost and other related reasons, undermines PSM function’s existing routines, effectiveness and performance.

The first article examines the state of the research on the production offshoring phenomenon and subsequently investigates, how, following the disintegration of the firm, the aspect of reintegration of disaggregated and dispersed activities is considered in production offshoring research. First the article shows that production offshoring research is largely conceptual, and second, it shows that reintegration of dispersed activities is seen as both an issue of intra-firm governance, and also that of building on existing linkages in production network activities.

The second article contributes to the theoretical understanding of the production firm as it implements the offshoring strategy, suggesting that the existing piece-meal theoretical explanations of the offshoring firm’s behavior ignore the systemic changes these firms make in order to remain viable. Article number 3 builds on the existing offshoring evolutionary models to explain the specific changes that occur in the purchasing and supply organization as a result of offshoring. The findings suggest that offshoring is not only PSMs key change lever, but also presents momentum for reorganizing in the PSM function.

Finally, article number 4 examines the level of coordination of the PSM function’s activities in the face of offshoring. The article suggests that the current view of coordination in PSM which addresses mainly the interface between activities and purchasing’s personnel is inherently flawed. It sidelines the role of coordination of information exchanges among purchasing process actors as a fundamental enabler of PSM activities coordination.

In conclusion, the thesis demonstrates that offshoring strategies have significant implications for organizations that pursue them. Yet to PSM, these implications also present significant opportunities for the reinvention of PSM’s role in the firm thus assuring better purchasing performance, and ensuring that the firm remains viable in the long term.

Alexander Gamst Page

Moorings and Disembeddedness
- The Search for Modern Subjectivity and the Need for Belonging among Chinese International Students in Norway

Alexander Gamst Page

This is an ethnographic study of Chinese international students in Norway. It focuses on their motives, experiences, difficulties and how these are managed. The main way this is done is through social groups, the Lutheran Evangelical Church (LEC) being a locus for this. The students are balínghòu, or post 80s generation, who have grown up in a modernizing China. This creates in them an emphasis on modernity where images from outside play a key role. They see China as tradition-bound, and the developed world as conducive to greater freedom.

Their conversion was a surprise, as it is disadvantageous in mainstream Chinese and Norwegian society. For some this was an expression of a personal faith, but for many it was an attempt to find belonging in a co-national group. The LEC provides a space for such social interaction, but simultaneously allows them to connect with western civilisation generally. In this way, the Chinese community at the church acts as a valve, allowing the young members to regulate their exposure to Norwegian society.

Some such exposure is important, as the sojourns are a part of an identity project for creating a modern and global identity. The students attempted to appropriate these qualities for themselves by embodying what they associate with the developed world. Most importantly, their futures should be created by their own choices, and not by tradition, so that they might have elective lifestyles rather than prescribed life-courses. In this way, they have both spatial and social mobility.

Ironically, this requires a disembeddedness, which contributes to the emotional distress of not belonging. In the early stages, their existence was dominated by the difficulties of international student life. Having to adapt to a new place and being without a social network was taxing for them. A number developed psychological and emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, disturbed sleep, etc. Such problems are common to international students, and tend to pass.

Although there are many alternatives open to them, the students here discussed resolved these issues through religious involvement. Many Chinese students became involved in the congregation to various degrees, some going so far as to be baptised, while others remain more peripheral. The LEC served several functions, besides those mentioned above. It also gave them a moral code to follow, which further alleviated distress. Above all, the LEC provided a feeling of belonging, which resolved some of the uncertainty that the students felt.

See more theses: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 09:44:23 +0200