Knowledge for Corporate Energy Management - Structural Contradictions and Hope for Change?

  • Ingmar Lippert


‘Energy’ has been continuously a topic in Western discourses on environmental and technology politics, at the latest since the global oil crises between 1970 and 1980. Potential for private sector innovation to put environmental protection goals into practice is considered significant. Implicit to the aims of energy efficiency and safe energy is 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 implications for knowledge politics 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’. 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. It is concluded, 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.


Energy Management Solar Panel Environmental Management System Knowledge Politics Ecological Modernisation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingmar Lippert
    • 1
  1. 1.Augsburg UniversityAugsburgGermany

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