Consulting virtue: from judgement to decision-making in the natural gas industry
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 2019, . 10.1111/1467-9655.13018
Shifts in the terrain of energy politics have given rise to consultant experts who produce and distributeknowledge of energy futures. Drawing on ﬁeldwork at executive roundtables in global cities acrossNorth America, this essay examines the consolidation of this form of expertise and the opulent settingsin which it is distributed. By exploring the role of aesthetic judgement in market-orientateddecision-making, it contributes to anthropological work on elites, expertise, and energy ethics byhighlighting the relationship between credibility and luxury. The essay also considers the enrolment ofthe expert in a kind of virtue ethics, whereby adherence to neoclassical economic principles is taken tobe a character trait worthy of emulation. While clients may not look to consultants for advice coded interms of ethics, I argue that they regard the person-based qualities of consultants as proxies for theirability to recommend a judicious course of action. By adopting this analytic, the essay sheds new lighton the conﬁdence that clients place in consultants by drawing out the relationship betweendepersonalized, quantitative approaches to energy markets and the virtue of the persons who proposethem.