Publication Type:Conference Paper
Source:7th International Critical Management Studies Conference, Naples (2011)
Keywords:Actor-Network Theory, Carbon emissions, corporate sustainability strategy, distributed agency, environmental management, ethnography
Often, corporate sustainability strategies are translated into climate change and, thus, carbon talk. By way of reviewing ethnographic evidences from corporate practices of the conceptualisation and measurement of carbon emissions, this paper engages with the multiply distributed agency of corporate environmental managers to enact carbon emissions. Presenting respective spatial, temporal, socio-organisational and material distributions allows us to theorise a range of configurations of fields and positions to monitor carbon emissions and provide for reactions. Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork at a leading multinational in the financial services sector over a period of more than 13 months, I focus on everyday work practices as taking place in a capitalist context. It is through practical work that the presences of carbon emissions are imagined and brought into being. Drawing on actor-network theory we may understand these practices as acting at a distance. Corporate actors map their corporation's carbon emissions by means of translating local environmental accounting data into globally commensurable emissions. For that they bring into a play a global network of data gatherers, a database and local calculative operations. The paper aims at providing an analysis of the various modes of acting at a distance in order to rethink the position of corporate agents of ecological modernisation and question their potential for critical and emancipatory manoeuvre.