Publication Type:Book Chapter
Source:Implementing Environmental and Resource Management, Springer, Heidelberg, p.211-228 (2011)
Keywords:Bourdieu, energy, Knowledge management, suggestion scheme, utopia
At the latest since the global oil crises between 1970 and 1980 "energy'' has been continuously a topic in Western discourses of environmental and technology politics. Potential for innovation in the private sector is considered significant to put into practice environmental protection goals. Implicit to the aims of energy efficiency and to safe energy are the presence of actors who support corporations in reaching these aims. These agents of ecological modernisation, i.e. environmental managers, and their practices have rarely been scrutinised. This paper, therefore, aims to make them the object of enquiry – approached from a Science and Technology Studies perspective. This article studies the knowledge politics implications of techno-economic decision-making by such an actor within the energy management at a site of a multinational corporation. Based on ethnographic research at the site the article focuses on an instance of a management tool, corporate suggestion schemes, to mobilise workers' ideas of improving the environmental performance. With this it becomes possible to attend to how corporate agents of ecological modernisation deal with the issue "energy''. Prior research focused on other aspects, but not on the actor. We find that the manager uses specific forms of knowledge – adequate to the discourse of ecological modernisation – while, however, sidelining alternative forms. Thus, the latter are lost to sustainable development. We conclude, that the actors' knowledge practice renders corporate energy management unsustainable. To conceptualise a way out of this dilemma the article draws on theories of grounded utopias.