About

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About the ‘Renewable Energy Activism’ research project

While we know quite a lot about environmental activism in communities and social movements, very little is known about green activism within corporations. Today, if we consider environmental citizenship as a whole, it is increasingly difficult to make a distinction between ‘internal’ and ‘external’ activism, as corporate employees are citizens both at work and at home. This is particularly true for those people who specifically seek employment in the fast expanding renewable energy sector, which has attracted environmentally conscious citizens and activists who want to positively contribute to the global quest of decreasing carbon emissions and dealing with climate change. While large, multinational energy companies have attracted some of these activists, as they have invested in renewable energy, many of the environmentally conscious citizens have opted for employment in small to medium-sized renewable energy start-ups.

Yet, very little is known about how these green workers-activists are employed, managed and cultivated to bring about a transition of the energy system. While there is an emerging green human resource management literature, it remains prescriptive and managerial. What is needed is a more detailed, empirical study of what it is like, as an environmental activists, to work in energy companies, and the challenges of managing such environmentally conscious employees.

The British Academy, the UK’s leading funding body for the humanities and social sciences, as well as Sweden’s Energy Agency have hence made research funds available to study the following questions in more detail:

Research Questions

1) How do employees working in energy companies conduct their green activism, and how do they manage the boundary between green citizenship and their employment?

2) What tools are used to manage these employees within energy companies, and what effects do these managerial tools have on the employer-employee relationship?

3) How does employees’ green activism within large, multinational energy companies compare to the activism within small and medium-sized companies?

About the researchers

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Annika Skoglund holds a PhD in Industrial Economics and Management (2011) and is Associate Professor at Uppsala University, Sweden. She is currently engaged in research on high and low carbon subjectivities, renewable activism and critical perspectives on alternative entrepreneurship. By cross-disciplinary approaches and collaborations she has published in Renewable Energy, Sustainable Development, Scandinavian Journal of Management, Children’s Geographies as well as Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses.

e-mail: annika.skoglund@angstrom.uu.se

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Steffen Böhm is Professor in Organisation & Sustainability at University of Exeter Business School. He was previously Professor in Management and Sustainability and Director of the Essex Sustainability Institute at the University of Essex. He’s held Visiting Professorships at the University of St Andrews, Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden. His research focuses on political economies and ecologies of organization, management and the environment. He has a particular research interest in the role of business in society as well as grassroots organization models for sustainability. He was a co-founder of the open-access journal ephemera: theory & politics in organization, and is co-founder and co-editor of the new open-access publishing press MayFlyBooks. He has published five books: Repositioning Organization Theory (Palgrave), Against Automobility (Blackwell), Upsetting the Offset: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets (Mayfly), The Atmosphere Business (Mayfly), and Ecocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities (Routledge).

e-mail: s.boehm@exeter.ac.uk