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Ecological modernisation and the development of the UK's green industrial strategy: the case of the UK National Industrial Symbiosis Programme.

Agarwal, Abhishek


Abhishek Agarwal


Charles Juwah


The UK National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) is the first industrial symbiosis (IS) network in the world to have been established at national level. Many studies have recently investigated the UK NISP, but much work remains to be done in understanding the context that enabled the development and management of a large scale IS network. This research aims to explore and understand: (1) the place of the UK NISP within the UK governments green market strategy; and, (2) the management and organisational design employed by the UK NISP in developing and managing a nation-wide IS network. Based on a qualitative inquiry, a case study approach was adopted to conduct this research. In-depth semi-structured interviews were used to gather information from twenty-eight policy officers, government advisors, as well as representatives of the UK NISP and its partner organisations. The research findings showed that the governments decision-making mechanism, in each of the UK countries, was significantly different. Whilst it was found that the UK government is focused on embedding ecological modernisation components in the policy process, there is also a need for extended and consistent decentralisation across the UK and a structural framework that enables non-state stakeholders to effectively influence the policy process. The outcomes of this research indicate a relationship between EM theory and the IS concept. By adopting the ecological modernisation agenda, the UK government can play a significant role in promoting the use of the IS concept by: (1) devising policies that are directly aimed at supporting the development of IS networks; and, (2) aligning the funding for technological innovation with the needs of potential IS projects. Nevertheless, the study found that the future of the UK NISP is entirely dependent on UK government funding and, therefore, it is recommended that the UK NISP should identify ways to raise income from the private sector as well for the UK NISPs long term survival. The findings also highlighted the effectiveness of the organisational design employed by the UK NISP (including leadership at national level, regional delivery strategy and regional partnership strategy) for a large scale IS network and the suitability of the UK NISPs organisational design to the dynamic nature of the IS network development. The regional partnership strategy was found to promote sectoral focus in IS networks, which did not adhere to the innovation and diversity principles of IS. This would result in limited innovation and raise the potential for an IS network to become unstable, for example, if a member decides to leave the network, the lack of diversity in the IS network would make it difficult to replace that member. So it is important that the UK NISP staff and contractors are provided with extensive training to ensure a better understanding of the IS concept principles. In a society facing economic and environmental challenges, this study specifically contributes to the understanding of the context that enabled the development of a large scale IS network that would help integrate environmental protection and economic growth.


AGARWAL, A. 2011. Ecological modernisation and the development of the UK's green industrial strategy: the case of the UK National Industrial Symbiosis Programme. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 18, 2012
Publicly Available Date Jul 18, 2012
Keywords Eco industrial development; Ecological modernisation; Environmental policy; Industrial ecology; Industrial symbiosis; National Industrial Symbiosis Programme
Public URL
Award Date Dec 31, 2011


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