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Title: Climate change, sustainable power sources, and developing economies : a case study on two power companies in China
Author: Sun, Jiazhe
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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The aim of this study was to discover the attitudes and beliefs underlying China's limited corporate environmental response to climate change. It employs as its theoretical framework the notion of attitudes and hence practices contributing to climate change as being a "wicked problem" in which multiple issues are synergistically related, and apparently resistant to linear cause and effect thinking or solution. Using a case-study approach in an interpretive paradigm, data were collected, during a lengthy internship in China, from semi-structured interviews with managers and on-site observations of two of China's leading power companies. The purpose was to discover what they believed were barriers to the adoption of clean technology in which China has invested heavily, what incentives they felt were and could be applied to speed the process, and what stakeholder interests they thought to be involved. Relevant documentary evidence was also explored. Findings revealed that there was significant consensus and little difference in managerial attitudes and beliefs in these two power companies. All managers expressed uncertainty about the benefits that might accrue from a switch to clean technology, with considerable adherence to path dependence, and awareness of the sunk costs involved in the generation of power through fossil fuels. Although they claimed that incentives were in place, few of these appeared to be directly related to facilitating corporate environmental response. There was some evidence of movement towards involvement of the workforce in idea-generation, yet little evidence of an infrastructure that might support radical or rapid change in beliefs or practices, or a culture that might take stakeholder positions and guidance fully into account. The environment tended to be viewed as an externality. The uniqueness of this study is that it was conducted from the position of intern, enabling a qualitative approach to data collection and analysis through observation of and discussion with members of a workforce directly involved in implementing aspects of climate change policy in two power companies in China. The adoption of the innovative theoretical framing of the question as a "wicked problem" proved helpful in considering views on climate change and possible solutions, as it revealed a web of multiple interdependent and situated attitudes and beliefs, leading to practices that may stand in the way of the adoption of clean technology in an emergent economy like China. This framework may be usefully adopted in further research studies on this subject.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available