Graceful extensibility in asset management: extending the capacity to adapt in managing cyber-physical railway systems

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    Graceful extensibility has been recently introduced and can be defined as the ability of a system to extend its capacity to adapt when surprise events challenge its boundaries. It provides basic rules that govern adaptive systems. Complex systems, such as the introduction of new rolling stock, need to adapt continuously to changing environments, stakeholders, demands and constraints. Rolling stock introductions deal with increasingly complex railway systems, changing regulations, strict safety requirements, ‘teething’ problems, many stakeholders and an increasing convergence of information and operational technology. To sustain adaptability when introducing new rolling stock, the theory of graceful extensibility might be valuable but needs further empirical testing. This study contributes by assessing the proto-theorems of graceful extensibility in the railway industry by adopting pattern matching analysis in a single case study design. Results indicated that the majority of theoretical patterns postulated by the theory was corroborated by the data. Guidelines were proposed for further operationalization of the theory. Furthermore, case results indicated the need to adopt management approaches that accept indeterminism as a complement to the prevailing deterministic perspective, in order to deal with surprise events. As such, this study may serve future rolling stock introductions and other critical asset
    introductions in their quest for sustained adaptability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-38
    JournalCognition, technology and work
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2021


    • UT-Hybrid-D
    • Sustained adaptability
    • Asset management
    • Complex projects
    • Graceful extensibility

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