Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Business


Faculty of Business and Public Management

First Advisor

Dr Scott Gardner


For decades electricity has been a critical source of energy for all major industries, nationally and internationally. In 2002 the Australian electricity supply industry had assets in excess of $86 billion and accounted for more than 1.4 percent of gross domestic product. It is a major employer with more than 33,000 people serving more than 8 million customers. This study explores the impact of corporatisation and management reform on the role and working life of managers within the broader context of this industry. It is an industry identified by academics, commentators and the business media over the past two decades as one of poor management performance and inefficiencies - often seen as significant contributors to historically high electricity costs to consumers in Australia. As a result, electricity utility reform has been high on the agenda of national and state governments from the early 1980's and throughout the 1990's. Macro and micro economic reforms driven by significant government sponsored reports were considered central to Australia's efforts to improve its economic position. Underpinning this orthodoxy was the call for managerial responsibilities and incentives for managers of public utilities to be redefined in accord with the government's objectives. Managerialism became the ideological driver for management reform and corporatisation. This in tum became the major change process employed by state governments seeking micro (agency level) economic reforms. These economic reforms incorporated efficiency, productivity and contestability considerations in line with National Competition Policy.

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