Fear and the capture of new markets #transitions #energy

Oh I want a post-doc.  Not just for the paying of the bills: I actually know what I want to study too. I want to study the mobilisation of emotions (fear, greed, hope etc) by entrepreneurs and contrapreneurs to

  • create new markets
  • capture existing/emerging ones
  • prevent new ones forming because it offends your a) worldview and/or b) balance sheet.

solarpower feasibleI know how I’d study it too, conceptually: I want to combine institutional theory (my new intellectual crush – but I’m not blind to the critique of it from the critical management studies types) and transitions studies (I’m probably ready to move from the MLP – clunky, undercooked and overegged – to Strategic Niche Management.  And that would also take in social movement studies, I suppose.

While of course not losing sight, a la Benjamin the Donkey in Animal Farm, that it is all futile anyway because Oh Susie we ran out of time, as Bill McKibben just said about The Donald.

Where does all this exuberance come from?  From the incumbent tactics on display in my ‘home’ country of Australia.  Basically, the guys who like and/or own centralised fossil development realise that they need to slow down the move towards renewables and grid fragmentation (the two overlap, but aren’t the same thing).

And so they’re beating up all sorts of stories about inevitable blackouts.  This is standard operating procedure when a new technology threatens the interests of people currently making a packet: you’d only be surprised if it wasn’t happening.  But here’s what someone told the fantastic Reneweconomy site. about the emerging market in peer-to-peer electricity trading etc (emphasis added).

The networks, initially, for convincing the regulator to allow them to spend tens of millions of dollars on IT systems and research, and further out because they might see a role for themselves in aggregating this demand and playing in the wholesale or grid services market.

Greensync and co like it because they want to be the traders of this new commodity. As we reported on Wednesday, in our story devoid of blackout threats, we will get some idea of what this DSO and orchestration might look like, and who might control it, when AEMO and the ENA release a joint report next week.

And as one wise soul pointed out to RenewEconomy on the sidelines of the conference: “A lot of companies are hanging their hat on this. There’s a lot of money to be made for this, they all want boxes in houses, and they want it to be their box.”

And, this good person further noted, the best way to get things moving in Australia – and grab control of a citizen’s asset – is to spread alarmist rhetoric, confect crisis, and then look like you have a solution.

It’s the old “stampede” tactic. To be studied in real-time.  Looking at the cultural-cognitive and normative pillars, rather than (just) the regulative one. Looking at the competing institutional logics and resulting complexity, and how different actors engage in different types of institutional work/entrepreneurship/convening/partaking to manage that complexity.  Ya basta with the tedious regime (in the MLP sense)  stuff, based as it is on structuration and a fudge of monumental and consequential proportions…

Onwards (and “Death to Humanity”, as Napoleon the pig would say. Obvs).

 

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Rabbit Holes, Mole Hills and living life forward… #PhDburblings

tenniel
The White Rabbit checks his watch

The fairly horrible (emotionally) but exhilarating (intellectually) process of The Thesis is coming to an end, overdue and incomplete as they mostly are.

While yomping around the park this morning articles with title like “Institutional Logics and Institutional Work: Should they be agreed?” and “How are Management fashions institutionalized? The role of institutional work”, I got to thinking – while not petting two dogs – about what this four years has given me (or what I’ve taken from them).

One of the realisations is that I’ve been using a negative metaphor for one of my (many) Bad Habits.  When I got (over)excited about a new thing (be it empirical or conceptual) I would read around/into the topic and cram my brains.  This we labelled ‘going down a rabbit hole’.  Possibly after Alice, I don’t know.  The point being, it was a ‘distraction’, and you’d come out covered in dirt and squinting, perhaps with pink-eye, or at the very least, not such Bright Eyes.

But another way of looking at it is that you’re clambering up, slowly and inefficiently, up a mole-hill, or up the slope of a much bigger hill, if you’re trying to understand a Big Theory (organizational studies/institutional theory/critical management studies or soctech transitions or public policy blah blah blah).  And from the top of a mole hill, or a mountain, you may – unless the sweat gets in your eyes – be able to get a better view of the terrain.  Now, you may not understand what you see, you may have to climb up the same hill (quicker next time? because you know the way, have better muscles) to see the terrain.

Anyway, it’s a more optimistic way of thinking about things. God knows why I like it.

Are all the rabbit-holes recategorisable as mole-hills or mountains?  Nope, some are indeed rabbit holes, (or seem that way now).   Could I have done better?  Oh yes. But we live our lives forward, while understanding them – if at all – backwards.

And the irony/problem is this – I really think I “get’ it” now: I can see the terrain(s) fairly clearly. I know where the quicksand is, where the well-worn paths are.  I see where I might be able to make a “contribution”.

But will I be able to get a job where I can ‘get it’ productively (both for myself – food on table – and for ‘society’).  I shall try.  We shall see.