How many admirals does it take to change a light bulb? Organizational innovation, energy efficiency, and the United States Navy's battle over LED lighting
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Energy policy research has highlighted systematic shortfalls in the adoption of new energy technologies owing to market failures and behavioral factors. However, less research has examined how organizational processes may block energy innovations. In this paper, we propose that a key organizational obstacle in the adoption of innovations may be the lack of a good justification for implementing a technology. In situations where there is no obviously correct answer regarding the adoption of an innovation, organizations put a premium on developing a justification that may be favorably received in the context of an organization’s energy culture. Absent a favorable justification an organization may abandon a new technology, or delay implementing it until a suitable justification becomes available. We draw our insights about the role of justifications in organizations from a study of the U.S. Navy’s decade-long attempt to justify LED lighting on its ships. LED lighting proponents in the Navy cycled through several justifications for the technology with little success. We conclude that a better appreciation of the organizational processes involved in justifying new energy investments is essential for the development of more effective energy policy.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2017.02.009
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