An aviation researcher, writer, aviation participant, pilot & agricultural researcher. Author of over 35 scientific publications world wide.


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Public interest and structural change aviation in australia

These are two interesting papers that should be read in the current climate, with information being slow to move and the department responsible for CASA and ATSB not answering the Senate inquiry into PelAir [at 25th October 2013]

A paper by James Scott Mahoney as:

Clipped Wings: Management discourses during organisational change at Australia’s Civil Aviation Authority

A research thesis submitted for the Master ofArts in Communication (Research) degree of the University of CanberraAugust 2007.


Structural change in organisations is stressful for staff and the managers who must implement it. Most change programs use employee communication techniques to support change directions set by senior executive decision makers -dominant coalitions.

This research used a single case study to explain the context and management discourses of a major re-structure of an Australian Federal Government agency, the former Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), during the early 1990s. A content analysis examined the use of keywords in management discourses that argued the need for change. The keywords represented the two major change discourses: micro-economic reform and aviation safety regulation.

A critical discourse analysis investigated the dominant coalition’s discourse strategies to justify change. Content and process communication theories, and the role offraming in organisational change, were used to explain how employees may have reacted to change directions.

The research found that change directions were framed as an economic imperative that clashed with a traditional organisational culture that emphasised the primacy of aviation safety. It found that mixed messages by the two principal members ofthe dominant coalition who drove change exacerbated the clash.

The results suggest a need for further analysis ofmanagement discourses used to inform employees about structural change, especially in organisations that have legislative responsibilities. Further analysis of change messages framed by dominant coalitions could lead to a deeper understanding ofhow they affect employees and the change process.

Clipped Wings Management change civil aviation authority 2007



This article seeks to define ‘public interest’ in safety in Australian civil aviation. It focuses on governance. Reforms from 1982 were underpinned by fiscal cost-consciousness and argument over whether the public, fare-paying passengers or industry were the clients. They lacked a sound theory: the neo-liberal theory of bureaucratic failure and the new managerialist policy of fiscal efficiency have been inadequate to explain how to arrange the residual regulatory affairs. Executive boards were established as statutory bodies to exercise sovereign coercive power but this fractured accountability. Governance now is organisationally more complex and system coherence has suffered. Managerial competence was a major contributing factor.

Critics claim that the number of near misses indicates that the system is an `accident waiting to happen’; supporters claim that the low numbers of accidents shows that the regime is working satisfactorily despite cutting $A100 million per year of ‘padding’ from previous budgets.




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