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FMCS1100 Communication and Culture |Railway Freight Resources


  1. What would you identify as the critical factors that contributed to the successful implementation of the TOPS system?

  2. What were the advantages and disadvantages of the ‘task force’ approach?

  3. How important are context and culture in understanding change?

  4. Are there any general lessons that can be learnt from this case study on the process of organizational change?



The critical factors that contributed to the successful implementation of the TOPS system are as follows:

  • It helped to combat the faulty and ineffective use and supervision of railway freight resources.

  • It reduced the

    manipulation of information which had led to severe financial loss for the company.

  • It catered to organizational development of the company by improving the relationships among workers of different levels by establishment of engaging communication techniques.

  • It improved operational control of the various departments as well as the company as a whole.


The ‘task force’ employed by the British Railways to imbibe the TOPS system within its work culture, had more advantages than disadvantages. While on one hand, it enforced strict rules for the existing employees who were more accustomed to the traditional methods of work, thereby risking the loss of employees, nevertheless, the ‘task force’ was successful in overcoming any resistance pertaining to the new computerized reporting procedure. The mobility of the ‘task force’ helped in training a large cross-section of the existing workers to the new system, both through theoretical classroom teaching procedures, as well as practical hands-on experience. Use of customized TOPS items for unified enthusiasm was also effective. The ‘task force’ essentially followed a dialogic procedure of organizational development (Bushe and Marshak 2016).


Context and culture are two immensely important inter-related proponents for understanding any organizational change. The need for a change is related to both the existing work-culture as well as the diversified cultural ethos of the employees. In case of British railways, the old and traditional work culture which followed a process of manual and strict hierarchical information distribution procedure was unable to match the demands of the age. Besides the loopholes in the working system, whereby the personal interests of the supervisors, especially at the marshalling yards, was also taking a heavy toll on the business of the company. Thus, it shows how the context of inaccurate work culture paved the way for such a huge organizational change within the company. 


The case of integration of TOPS system to the work of British Railways show calculated risks with the efficient use of a dialogic system can lead to successful organizational changes. The implementation of the ‘task force’ and its actions leading to new employments, shows the changing nature of strategies that are adopted for organizational development (Oswick and Burnes 2014). It also shows how protests from unions can be tactfully averted by provision of engaging new offerings.


Bushe, G.R. and Marshak, R.J., 2016. The dialogic mindset: Leading emergent change in a complex world. Organization Development Journal, 34(1), pp.37-65.

By, R.T., Oswick, C. and Burnes, B., 2014. Looking back and looking forward: Some reflections on journal developments and trends in organizational change discourse. Journal of Change Management, 14(1), pp.1-7.

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