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Analyzing international city networks for sustainability: A study of five major Swedish cities
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
2016 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 134, no part A, 61-69 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article studies five Swedish cities, their membership in international city networks, the different motivations for such membership, and their administrations’ expected and perceived benefits. Particular focus is put on sustainability, environmental technology, and municipal companies as potential beneficiaries of such network membership. This study is motivated by the fact that city networks can potentially contribute to global sustainability goals by accelerating the diffusion of innovations, giving members access to bidirectional information flows, improving the user-producer relationship, and providing legitimacy in the potential recipient regimes.

The study relies on a documentation review, the collection of data from the websites of the studied cities and numerous international city networks, and interviews with city officials responsible for international city networks. It was found that four of the five studied cities are active members of international networks for sustainability, but also that there are large gaps between the two largest cities and the rest when it comes to the number of memberships and the geographical outreach they have through the networks they belong to.

Some city officials claim that it is easier to be active in national networks than in international networks, due to time requirements and coordination among so many members. However, city officials see benefits for their municipal companies when they are members of international networks, and these companies are usually independent when it comes to choosing and administering their memberships. It was found that it is difficult to measure direct benefits from network membership, and link improvements in the studied cities to participation in a particular network (with the exception of groups created for a specific infrastructure project, reported as “networks” by the administrations). In addition, there is no apparent direct correlation between membership and diffusion of environmental solutions from municipal companies. However, the administrations expect indirect benefits such as gaining legitimacy and access to milieus where they can share information and best practices, which could lead to the improvement of both local and global environmental conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016. Vol. 134, no part A, 61-69 p.
Keyword [en]
Legitimacy;Information Flows;Knowledge Sharing;Municipal Companies;Environmental Technology
National Category
Environmental Management
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-121814DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.09.093ISI: 000382409700007OAI: diva2:859484

Funding agencies: Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA); Swedish Energy Agency; Tekniska Verken AB

Available from: 2015-10-07 Created: 2015-10-07 Last updated: 2017-12-01
In thesis
1. Stimulating the diffusion of environmental technologies through export
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Stimulating the diffusion of environmental technologies through export
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Contemporary environmental problems represent complex societal challenges, and as these problems become increasingly global, the international diffusion of environmental technologies is essential. One way to diffuse technologies internationally is through export. Despite the potential benefits from the adoption of environmental technologies, their export is stifled by externalities and free-rider problems.

From this background, the aim of this thesis is to analyse how to stimulate the diffusion of environmental technologies through export. This aim is operationalised using four research questions, which focus on governmental initiatives to promote environmental technology export and their perceived effectiveness among targeted firms, obstacles to and drivers for export among municipally owned companies, the use of international city networks to facilitate environmental technology export and components of business concepts for environmental technology export. These questions are explored in the Swedish context using document analyses, interviews and internet surveys in a compilation thesis which consists of a cover essay and an appendix of five scientifically peer-reviewed and published journal articles.

The conclusions are that governmental export promotion initiatives are often generic for all kinds of exporters, including environmental technologies, and comprise financial support, information provision, education and training, and trade and mobility-related programs, often with little incorporation of the specific characteristics of environmental technologies which many exporters perceive as ineffective. Municipally owned companies experience different barriers to and drivers for engaging in international activities compared to privately owned companies, and are often involved in international projects which are not always commercial export. International city networks serve as important arenas for bi-directional information sharing and learning regarding market characteristics, environmental challenges and potential solutions, building legitimacy for technologies and their suppliers. Regarding components of business concepts for the export of environmental technologies, regulation, legitimacy and private-public partnership are identified as particularly important based on the complexity and systemic nature of environmental technologies.

Altogether, this thesis makes a contribution by conceptualising the export of environmental technologies with emphasis on technology characteristics, the technology supplier including their business concepts, obstacles to and drivers for export, technology adopters and their characterisation, communication channels and the diffusion context. For policy makers, a dynamic approach to environmental technology export promotion, in which specific attributes of environmental technologies and their suppliers are considered along their international business development, is suggested as a complement to existing generic initiatives. The possibility to provide such support should be reconciled with resource effectiveness, heterogeneity among companies and the complementary role of governmental interventions to market initiatives. Finally, partnerships between publicly and privately owned companies are suggested as particularly relevant since they build on the long-term experience, functioning proof-of-concept and legitimacy of publicly owned companies together with the competitiveness and flexibility of privately owned companies. These attributes could help overcome the liabilities of foreignness and newness, as well as resource constraints which challenge environmental technology export.

Abstract [sv]

De stora miljöproblemen innebär komplexa samhällsutmaningar och allt eftersom miljöproblemglobaliseras ökar behovet av en internationell spridning av miljöteknik. Export är ett sätt attsprida teknologier internationellt, men trots de potentiella fördelarna med miljöteknikexportstöter det ofta på hinder. Exempel på sådana hinder är externa effekter som att miljönytta intetillfaller det exporterande företaget, och att konkurrenter åker snålskjuts på de företag som tar deinitiala stegen.

Utifrån denna bakgrund syftar den här avhandlingen till att analysera hur miljöteknikexport kanstimuleras ytterligare. För att besvara syftet har fyra frågeställningar utformats som fokuserar påstatliga initiativ för att främja export av miljöteknik och hur deras effekter uppfattas bland företagi målgruppen; hinder och drivkrafter för export hos kommunala bolag; internationella nätverkmellan storstäder som arenor för att underlätta export av miljöteknik; samt affärsmodeller för attexportera miljöteknik. Frågeställningarna utforskas i ett svenskt sammanhang genomdokumentanalys, intervjuer och enkäter. Avhandling bestående av en sammanfattande ”kappa”och fem publicerade vetenskapliga artiklar.

Resultaten från avhandlingen visar att statliga initiativ för att främja export oftast är generiska förolika typer av exportörer inklusive miljöteknikföretag. Initiativen inkluderar vanligtvis finansielltstöd, information, utbildning samt stöd för marknadsbesök och mobilitet. Dock tas ingen störrehänsyn till de särskilda egenskaperna hos miljöteknik vid utformandet av stödet. Stödet uppfattasdessutom av många miljöteknikexportörer som ineffektivt. Kommunala bolag har andra hinderoch drivkrafter än privata företag för att engagera sig internationellt och är oftast involverade iprojekt som inte är direkta exportaktiviteter. Internationella nätverk mellan städer kan fungerasom arenor för informationsutbyte och lärande mellan olika aktörers marknadsegenskaper,miljöproblem och potentiella lösningar samt bidra till legitimitet för tekniken och dessleverantörer. När det gäller utveckling av affärsmodeller för att exportera miljöteknik framstårlagstiftning, legitimitet, och samarbete mellan privata och offentliga aktörer som särskilt viktigt attbeakta på grund av miljöteknikens komplexitet och systemiska natur.

Sammanfattningsvis bidrar avhandlingen till en konceptualisering av miljöteknikexport genom attfokusera på teknikens egenskaper, dess leverantörers affärsmodeller, hinder och drivkrafter förexport, de som köper tekniken och deras egenskaper, kommunikationskanaler samt sammanhangdär spridningen sker. En rekommendation är att politiska beslutsfattare borde stödja export avmiljöteknik på ett dynamiskt sätt där specifika egenskaper hos miljöteknik och dess leverantörerbeaktas i takt med deras internationella affärsutveckling. En dynamisk ansats kan vara ett brakomplement till många befintliga generiska statliga initiativ för att främja export av miljöteknik.En sådan ansats bör ta hänsyn till resurseffektivitet, olikheter mellan företag, samt varakomplementär till de icke-statliga initiativ som redan finns på marknaden. Slutligen föreslåssamarbeten mellan offentliga och privatägda företag, vilket anses högst relevant eftersomoffentliga företag kan bidra till att kombinera den mångåriga erfarenheten av miljötekniskalösningar samt den legitimitet som sådana företag kan ha med privata företags styrkor så somkonkurrenskraft och flexibilitet. Dessa förslag kan bidra till att minska de exporthinder som haratt göra med att miljöteknik ofta är ny och främmande, samt miljöteknikföretagens oftabegränsade resurser.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2017. 93 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1864
Environmental Technology, Technology Diffusion, Export, Internationalisation
National Category
Environmental Management Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Business Administration Information Systems, Social aspects History of Technology
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-139979 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-139979 (DOI)9789176854952 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-09-29, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 09:15
Available from: 2017-08-23 Created: 2017-08-23 Last updated: 2017-08-31Bibliographically approved

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