PhD Theses

PhD theses from CMI


Camilla Bonde


This thesis is a study of the Public Safety and Emergency (PSE) radio communication planning and implementation process in Denmark over the last two decades.

The thesis aims to contribute to the field of technology development and implementation by studying how main driving forces affect relevant and rational choices.

In particular, the lock-in effects in ICT planning and implementation projects are studied during the planning and decision-making process, implementation and operational use of new radio communication technologies.

The main research and legal context, technological context and market context affected the choices and implementation for PSE-systems by public authorities in general and Denmark in particular.

Three specific research questions were set up to guide content, process and methodology:

What PSE-system did the Danish state want?

What PSE-system did the Danish state get?

Which decisive driving forces within the legal, political, technological and market context influenced the planning and decision-making in Denmark?

The study belongs broadly within interdisciplinary research. It seeks to understand and explain the decisive driving forces, which are capable of shaping rational planning and implementation by studying the interaction of three contextual areas: (i) the policy/law, (ii) the technology and (iii) the market. The study also addresses the competition and transparency aspect and finally the technological utilization of essential functionalities and facilities with reference to the set of EU harmonized PSE-standards.

The study is epistemological in the sense that it provides a detailed narrative of the TETRA technology implementation in Denmark for PSE-services over the last 20 years. The study is mainly inductive as it seeks to induce a holistic understanding of the main driving forces and the consequences. It originates from a comprehensive case study of the PSE-radio communication technology implementation in Denmark.

The study is primarily based on qualitative research methods. Case studies, observations, semi-structured, open-ended interviews, archive and documentary studies are used. The research is exploratory and explanatory in the sense that it identifies the main shaping contextual factors through comprehensive research. It aims to understand and explain how and why certain identified driving forces are decisive for the implementation and explain what consequences they may cause.

The analytical framework is constructed in such a way, that theoretical models, the methodology models and data collection approaches have been combined and ensure triangulation within all three parameters. Five different theories (                          Socio legal studies, SCOT, Lock-in effects, Path dependence and Making social Science matter (power studies)) are used in order to analyse which driving forces are decisive, because those forces have inherent deterministic or irreversible properties that create a certain path.

Those theories explain why certain political, legal, market and technology forces may create technology frames, stabilization, closure, lock-in, path dependencies or social pressure that leads to a point of no return

The research thus is based on a triangulation of theories, methods and data that originates from techno- and socio-economic research as well as legal research. The Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) theory (Trevor J. Pinch et al, 1986), (Wiebe E. Bijker, et al, 1989) and the Social Shaping of Technology (SST) (Wajcman et al, 1999) are addressed to collect and analyse data on how and why a technology frame and a Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum frame are constructed. It is also used to explain how social groups of actors are capable of constructing a stabilization and closure towards a certain implementation model in the planning and implementation process.

The role of this irreversibility or closure towards a technology frame and a RF spectrum is also investigated by using theories on path dependence, increasing returns and lock-in effects (see e.g. (Arthur W. B., 1989) (David, 2000) (Raghu Garud et al. 2001) (Raghu Garud et al., 2012), (Carl Shapiro & Hal R. Varian, 1999).

The research analyses the organizational behaviour and human (political) commitment that gives rise to a particular course of action in the planning and decision-making process with reference to a governmental intervention and strong commitment to a 'high risk project', which is included in the thesis in the last case study. The analysis of the case in this context is situated in the literary context of e.g. theories on Escalation of Commitment and Escalation of Commitment bias (Barry M. Staw, 1976 and Cantarelli, C. C., et al, 2010).

Reference is also made to Leo Festinger's theory on cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) to understand certain human behaviours based on mental discomfort; e.g. to explain the mental state experienced by those who are engaging in conflicting attitudes e.g. an attitude where a dissonance between the individual's ideas/values and the individual's actions are formed.

According to Nietzsche and Flyvbjerg, the power and the decisive forces are to be found in actual examples (cases), the details and the thick descriptions (of cases). Therefore, the thesis is based on analysing thick descriptions and in-depth case studies. The truth is in the details, which upon a closer analysis give the answers to what sequences of events that were decisive and influential on the decision-makers.

The significance of the research lies in the insight knowledge contribution in identifying and explaining the main driving forces within the legal, political, market and technology context that is capable of shaping the planning and implementation process of a technology in a certain direction. The case studies seek to illustrate how it affects the implementation and societal consequences.

This thesis findings show, through the wealth of empirical collected data centring on the TETRA implementation in Denmark, that the choice of a private mobile operator implementation model and the mobile provider's interpretation of the set of TETRA standards for the PSE-services was based on previous political decisions, RF spectrum and licencing allocation and administration, cognitive dissonance, social pressure, agreements, construction of a technology and RF spectrum frame, strategic behaviour, political vulnerability leading to “point of no return” by creeping lock-in.

The results and findings on how and why the context and history matter in ICT projects seek to assist those actors, policy-makers, planners, decision-makers and law-makers, who have to make strategic choices. The strategic decisions at an early stage can have enormous impact on the future flexibility in strategic directions. It empowers key actors to avoid some of the severe future negative outcomes if they have knowledge on how and why different driving forces in the PSE-sector affect the implementation and the operational use of a new radio technology, and how and why the market, politics, the law and application of the law are affected by this.

Keywords: PSE-services, social, legal, political and economic construction and shaping of the TETRA implementation and operational usage, risky decision-making, lack of competition, lack of transparency and operational use.

Date of defence: 2018.06.08

See her publications.

PhD theses