Policy, ‘politicking’ and organisational culture – Barriers to engaging employees in behaviour change initiatives.




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Peer reviewed



The energy savings potential within non-domestic buildings/commercial buildings from behaviour change initiatives is becoming well known. Low-cost interventions centred on simple energy efficiency behaviour changes have been shown to contribute to local, national and EU policy commitments to carbon reduction upwards of 10-20%. Yet, research also shows time and again that these straightforward behaviour changes can be anything but simple. Notwithstanding the psychological and social complexities inherent in behaviour, human behaviour in non-domestic buildings is affected by organisational culture, departmental ‘politiking’ and conflicting internal politics and business goals. No-where is this more evident that in local government where municipalities are expected to lead on carbon reduction initiatives whilst operating in changing political landscapes and juggling decreasing operational budgets with increasing expectations on public services. This paper presents findings from a UK Research Council funded ‘research in the wild’ case study exploring the role of digitally enabled engagement in a UK local authority. Innovative methods of combining the digital economy and user-engagement were trialled in an effort to increase user-interaction within their buildings and foster a more collaborative approach to energy management. A qualitative research approach was undertaken and findings are discussed from an analysis of a focus group and a set of semi-structured interviews with members of the user group and key actors within the municipality. Findings show that whilst there are positive signs with regards to the potential of increased user-engagement and ICT digital tools to facilitate behaviour change, barriers remain with regards to the implementation in ‘real world’ contexts of innovative approaches. For this particular organisation these included a staff reduction programme amidst financial cuts, a risk-averse culture to new technologies, and fundamental questions around where responsibilities lie with regards to energy management. Future innovations must take account of these wider issues in order to be ‘fit for purpose’ and achieve the energy reductions required.



Behaviour change, energy dashboards, Feedback, Digital Economy, Organisational culture


Bull, R., Everitt, D., and Stuart, G. (2015) Policy, ‘politicking’ and organisational culture – Barriers to engaging employees in behaviour change initiatives. ECEEE Summer Study Conference Proceedings 2015, p 9-205-11 pp. 2143-2152


Research Institute

Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)