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Contracting knowledge: the organizational limits to interdisciplinary energy efficiency research and development in the US and the UK

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date04/1999
JournalEnergy Policy
Journal number4
Volume27
Number of pages11
Pages217-227
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Comparison of the organization and management of government funded energy efficiency research and development in the United States and the United Kingdom reveals a number of common features as well as some important differences. The UK pattern is one of centralized agenda-setting and competition in which rival research contractors bid for small, pre-determined, "bite-sized" pieces of work. By contrast, the US approach involves complex negotiations between federal energy and environmental policy agencies and semi-entrepreneurial national laboratories. How do these differing research environments influence the knowledge we have of energy efficiency? How do these organizational features affect the shaping of research agendas, the definition of research problems and the management and dissemination of resulting expertise? More specifically, what consequences do these arrangements have for the conduct of needed social science studies within this conventionally technical field? In exploring these questions, the paper identifies a variety of ways in which opportunities for inter-disciplinarity are inadvertently structured by the mechanics of research management. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.