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Title: Using practice theory to research energy and environmental governance for small and medium-sized enterprises
Author: Hampton, Sam
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 763X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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If the transition to a low carbon economy is to be successful, inclusive and sustainable, then small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) must not be neglected. However, they are extremely heterogenous and it is difficult to make generalisations about their motivations, consumption patterns or everyday practices, or to create effective policies and governance processes. This social scientific research uses qualitative methods to investigate how and why energy is consumed by organisations, and the role of governance practices in shaping demand. The central research question is: • How can practice theory be used to improve the effectiveness of UK SME energy and environmental governance? Five empirical papers answer this question by applying practice theory in various settings: • Paper 1 focuses on the practice of home and its affective dimensions. Themes of comfort, control and flexibility are revealed, each influencing how energy is consumed and conserved. • Paper 2 combines practice theory with the concept of sensemaking to show how energy management is intertwined with organisational culture and knowledge construction processes in three SMEs. • Paper 3 shows that low carbon SME advisors are critical middle actors, but could be more effective if 'softer' skills were deployed alongside technical expertise. • Paper 4 combines practice theory with the multi-level governance framework to investigate policy implementation as a practice-bundle, spanning spatial and temporal settings. •Paper 5 asks whether practice theory could follow behavioural economics in gaining influence within government. Findings indicate a need and appetite for practice-theoretical insights amongst government social researchers. This research demonstrates how practice theory can help to improve the effectiveness of governance practices. However to gain greater influence, researchers need to be philosophically liberal, experimental in their use of theory and methods, and pro-actively develop relationships with governance actors at local and national levels.
Supervisor: Fawcett, Tina ; Darby, Sarah Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Geography