Learning to manage environmental ventures and technological innovation: the case of solar energy = Aprendiendo a gestionar emprendimientos ambientales urbanos y su innovación tecnológica: el caso de sistemas de energía solar
Green technology developments bring public managers to the table with entrepreneurs who want to promote new technologies and share regard for the public good. The introduction of green technologies to the general public evidences that the challenge of technological change spans to a sphere of social interactions that operate in the breakthrough. This phase is best characterized as an inter-organizational process and my research explores the patterns that emerge through it. My research focuses on the development of a solar energy venture, the Solar-to-market initiative based in Massachusetts. By treating the creation of this venture as a dynamic system, I will highlight the role of public-private and third sector partnerships in shaping policies and technology innovation. The core question of the research is addressed by mapping out the networks that emerge throughout the process from project design to implementation. I urge public managers and entrepreneurs to consider the following aspects when managing green technological environmental ventures: (1) Design a framework for setting goals, policies, responsibilities and negotiation terms during the technological development and implementation phase, from design to commercialization. (2) Because of the complexity involved in green technological innovation, organizations demand a high degree of interdependence to share knowledge, complementary operational capabilities and joint action; thus creating the mechanisms to maintain these interactions is crucial. (3) A shift from traditional energy systems requires a change of social structures and institutional settings that demand the participation of the various stakeholders to co-produce and adopt the technological developments. (4) The societal change that technology demands, can be reached by mobilizing civic groups and social structures without threatening public institutions. (5) Green technological environmental ventures can be managed through an experimental and learning-oriented approach that enables a strategic niche management. Learning from small systems provides basis for policy innovations that are necessary for paving the way to sustainability as practices, such as energy consumption demand not incremental changes but a system transformation. In brief, I consider that a system of adaptive technology developments based on smaller operating parts within larger systems, which have acquired valuable knowledge and experience while working cooperatively, can contribute to a more equal and sustainable development.
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