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Natalie Slawinski, Business Administration Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, is leading a team of researchers working to understand how the perceptions of managers in the oil and gas industry impact decisions to invest in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and other low carbon technologies. There are certain ‘understood’ objective barriers to CCS deployment including factors such as public acceptance, liability regimes, a contested policy environment, misleading/limited information on CCS, and the lack of a price incentive.
This research will examine less understood subjective barriers behind management decisions not to adopt new low carbon technologies. For example, how do the managers think about issues/barriers around a potential investment? How do collaborative groups contribute to shaping managers’ perceptions about environmental issues? How does this in turn impact investment decisions, such as CCS investments?
The knowledge provided in this study will be used to help executives and policy makers become aware of and overcome barriers to investment in low carbon technologies. Policy options can be more effectively directed to move firms towards a low carbon future, and will frame the issue so it is more favorable to managers.
$151,500 / 2 years: Awarded 2011
This research will be the first to examine the relationship between managerial cognition and corporate investments (or lack thereof) in CCS technologies. By identifying barriers that have stalled the adoption and deployment of low carbon technologies, new ways of framing the issue can be identified to help policy developers design options that are more acceptable to managers.
Insights from this research will be shared with companies and policy makers (one important subgroup of large-scale emitters is oil sands producers). For example, understanding best practices in collaboration could help companies learn how to more effectively solve environmental problems and improve their environmental performance. Policy makers could develop tools or incentives for collaboration in oil sands and potentially other large-scale emitters. Collaboration in the oil sands group could provide lessons for other industries, and governments could learn from this example to develop and implement policies.
Business students will also use this knowledge. Although competitive advantage is stressed in university, it will be important to teach future managers about collaboration to achieve environmental performance goals. Environmental stewardship is a large, complex problem which no one individual, company or government can address on its own. Collaboration between multiple groups is necessary to generate new, effective ideas and approaches to the problem of reducing carbon emissions.
There is keen interest within the energy sector to understand the benefits of collaboration and how it can be developed. The project has been well received and supported by individuals and groups within the energy sector. This support has enabled the close study of different working groups in two collaborative industry associations.
Natalie Slawinski, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Pratima Bansal, University of Western Ontario
Frances Bowen, Queen Mary, University of London
Connie Van der Byl, University of Calgary
Researchers have observed that industry-wide collaboration on technology development to improve environmental performance is a fairly recent experience for the oil and gas industry. The oil sands industry has formed two groups, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) and Oil Sands Leadership Initiative (OSLI), to positively address their environmental track record. Collaborations within OSLI have led to the exchange of ideas and a shift in the way issues are being viewed. Over time, managers from different companies have begun to work together on technologies or issues that were previously viewed as competitive. Slawinski’s team is excited to study how these perceptions have shifted over time, how they can be altered, and what factors are necessary for promoting these changes and enacting policy.
The research team has been performing literature reviews, observing managers in OSLI working group meetings, and conducting interviews with industry experts and senior managers in eight oil and gas companies. The group will continue to attend monthly meetings of two OSLI working groups – the Water Management Working Group and the Technology Breakthrough Working Group. In the future, the team will begin to observe COSIA Water and GHG Environmental Priority Area meetings.
Organizations like COSIA and OSLI want to understand the barriers to collaboration. Historically, there has not been a high level of openness in industries operating in Alberta’s oil sands. This research project is demonstrating more openness in the industry, with companies allowing researchers to observe working group meetings and conduct interviews.
Dr. Natalie Slawinski
Faculty of Business Administration
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s, NL, Canada, A1B 3X5
T: 1 709 864 2021