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Cognitive and institutional perspectives of eco-efficiency

Bleischwitz, R; (2003) Cognitive and institutional perspectives of eco-efficiency. Ecological Economics , 46 (3) pp. 453-467. 10.1016/S0921-8009(03)00186-1. Green open access


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The paper sketches out a theoretical framework for analysing the interplay between eco-efficiency, cognition and institutions. It derives from analytical shortfalls of the prevailing literature, which features strongly engineering and business economics, by using insights from New Institutional Economics, from Cognitive Science and, partly, from Evolutionary Economics. It emphasises the role cognition and institutions play in the adoption of ‘green’ technologies by firms. A cognitive perspective derives from recent research on simple heuristics and context-based rationality; it is proposed that those findings can serve to analyse decision-making of individual actors respectively firms and, thus, should complement economic analysis. A second proposition is that eco-efficiency and normative rules such as a Factor Four strongly rely upon institutions, i.e. the ability of institutions to evolve over time and the development of those institutions that are most appropriate to enhance technological change. In this regard, business institutions and competition are crucial, but regulatory needs remain in order to safeguard continuity of knowledge creation. The framework allows for an analysis why overall adoption of eco-efficiency still can be considered relatively slow and why some markets and firms are far ahead. As a brief case study the article reflects upon German waste law's ability to enhance eco-efficiency.

Type: Article
Title: Cognitive and institutional perspectives of eco-efficiency
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/S0921-8009(03)00186-1
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8009(03)00186-1
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2003. This manuscript version is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This licence allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licences are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Technical change; Institutional change; Cognition; Knowledge creation; Environmental management; Factor four
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1407347
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