Exploring environmental innovation journeys: An ethnographic study in a firm from the UK food and farming sector

Langendahl, Per-Anders Axel (2013). Exploring environmental innovation journeys: An ethnographic study in a firm from the UK food and farming sector. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000eeb8

Abstract

Environmental Innovation is seen as vital for sustainable futures. Knowledge about environmental innovation is sought in various contexts and recent thinking recognizes this as a process that unfolds in time and space. Environmental innovation journeys are therefore the subject of a growing literature. However, little is known about how environmental innovation journeys actually proceed in various contexts, how we might make sense of these and intervene to attain more sustainable futures. This thesis begins to address this gap in knowledge. It reports ethnographic research undertaken to explore an environmental innovation journey situated in a firm from the UK food and farming sector. Data were collected from multiple sources via multiple methods including participant observation and semi-structured interviews. This thesis shows that the environmental innovation journey is non-linear, involving temporary fixes and is reversible. This insight accords with recent constructivist accounts of environrnental innovation. Inspired by the work of John Law, these were drawn upon to make sense of the environmental innovation journey without compromising reality. Seen in this way, environmental innovation journeys involve developing, maintaining and deleting situated practices. This involves processes that are shaped by competing environmental discourses, which manifest in the firm as storylines and images of performances required of practices. Thus, the contribution of this thesis is to offer an approach to making sense of environmental innovation journeys, which may be used in other contexts and which can be adapted as appropriate by actors involved.

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