Regime actors: The role of consulting e ngineers in sustainable t ransitions
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In this thesis I study the work performed by consulting engineers to appropriate environmental knowledge into their services. In general, my findings illuminate how time and cost constraints led to a widespread practice of recycling of solutions, resulting in a stable regime with little change. Further, the consulting engineers trust governmental agencies to manage environmental issues and they do not take on the role as stakeholders. However, following Shove and Walker’s critique (2007) of transition management theory, this regime appears to be more dynamic, with not only regulations as an important change force but also with dynamics coming from the consulting engineers themselves. In the introductory paper, I pursue the phenomenon of sustainable transitions and the role of consulting engineers as a crosscutting issue that may be said to constitute a common topic of the papers making up this thesis. I consult the theoretical perspective of transition management and strategic niche management (SNM) and also look at the critique of this perspective. Further, each of the four papers raises specific concerns that is analyzed by use of different theoretical resources: The first paper, Governance and governmentality, studies the way environmental governance may be co-produced with consulting engineers’ management of environmental knowledge. The second paper, Doing environmental concerns, study how environmental concerns are enacted and dealt with by consulting engineering companies in Norway, by way of actor-network theory. The third paper, Bridging two worlds?, study how consulting engineers engage with and appropriate new environmental knowledge from research communities. Here, mode 2 theory, actor-network theory and two-community theory were applied. The fourth and final paper, An accidental Process?, study a successful "green" building process and is a detailed analysis of how an environmentally friendly design emerged. As the findings in this thesis show, public policy dominates with respect to changing the practices of consulting engineers. It is tempting to propose stricter regulations as a way to achieve greater focus on environmental concerns. However, consulting engineers could do more on their own. To accomplish this, I argue, policy-makers need to engage with consulting engineers not only as an object of regulation but as policy subjects to be engaged in dialogue about environmental issues. Consulting engineers on the other hand need to change their identity and self-perception. This also calls for dialogue, since identities are difficult to change through regulations.