The Implementation of the ERTMS on the Norwegian Railway Network: A Case Study of a Large Infrastructure Project Using an Actor-network Theory Approach

Kine Strømstad & Hedvig Øster Haagensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


A megaproject is a phenomenon that describe large infrastructure projects that are characterized by being highly complex and resource demanding. This study draws upon the implementation of the ERTMS on the Norwegian railway network to understand why budgeted costs and timeframes often are exceeded in such projects. Specifically, this study draws upon Actor-Network theory to understand the dynamic nature of the implementation of the ERTMS. The knowledge derived from the study can be used by the specific case company to understand internal processes better, making them more informed lated in the implementation process.
The overall research question is proposed as following: How can the implementation of the ERTMS in Norway be explained and improved by applying Actor-Network theory? To answer the research question, a qualitative approach has been applied and thorough interviews have been conducted with representatives from the company, and within the project organization. By answering the research questions, the thesis provided contributions to the literature relating to cost manage in large infrastructure projects and the Actor-Network management accounting literature.
The key actors in this study appeared to be the legislative forces who initiated the implementation of the ERTMS on the Norwegian Railway, and the various actors within the project organization. These were identified to be the managers and the engineers. It was found the goals and challenges of these actors were in line with their expert background. Findings also demonstrated that inscriptions such as documents, reports and calculations were consistently engaged in the interaction with human-actors, and are considered significant in framing the overall project plan. The complex interactions between actors within the project organization came to show through three changes that were proposed, where the engineers represented an emerging concerned group.
By applying ANT the researchers were able to explain and provide recommendations to the implementation of ERTMS in Norway. Based on the analysis it was found that (1) The the planning was done at a rough level, which imply, similar to other research, that the company most likely will exceed costs and that there will be delays. (2) The interaction between participants in the project organization causes complexity which appears to be underlying reasons for why this occur.

EducationsMSc in Accounting, Strategy and Control, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages148
SupervisorsMichael Werner