Applying business studies methods to transport research

Roby, Helen (2010). Applying business studies methods to transport research. In: UTSG 42nd Annual Conference, 5-7 Jan 2010, Plymouth, UK.



As transport planning and policy diversify from infrastructure development to demand management and Smarter Choices, there is also a need to diversify the research methods for transport studies. With the development of behaviour change as a fundamental part of the Smarter Choices programme, the use of psychology and behaviour change models has been accepted. It should therefore follow that where transport planning involves businesses, such as workplace travel planning, an approach that involves business studies is also needed. A project using aspects of Roger's Diffusion of Innovations, including the attributes of an innovation and the process of an innovation in an organisation will be used as an example to illustrate this. It shows how a business studies theoretical framework can be used as a structure to analyse qualitative data from case studies.
The aim of the project was to understand how workplace travel plans had developed and embedded into an organisation's processes and culture. To understand this requires an appreciation of the culture and structure of an organisation and how the travel plan fits within them. To help explain this relationship another aspect of business studies, Mintzberg's Structure in Fives was used. The Mintzberg model describes different types of organisations, such as a professional or machine bureaucracy or a divisionalised form. These forms are then divided into five different parts, which group together the different functions of an organisation and show their interrelationship. This framework was used to help understand the impact of the position of the travel planner on the embedding of a travel plan.
This paper will discuss how appropriate the use of business studies methods was for the analysis of the qualitative data for this project. It will then move on to discuss the relevance of business studies techniques as a method in transport studies in general.

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