Farm to Flight: Orchestration, Social Networks and the Transnational Environmental Governance of Aviation

Friday, 3 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW2.3.04 (Tower Two)
Lasse Folke Henriksen, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Stefano Ponte, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Orchestration is becoming a prevalent strategy of transnational environmental governance (TEG). National and international public organizations are taking on more withdrawn regulatory roles in which they use soft power to make industries adapt to global environmental changes. This includes working with industry actors as well as civil society groups in collaboratory ways. We argue that two conditions have to be met for effective public orchestration to occur. First, governments and/or international organizations (IOs) have to create feasible incentives that drive industries to innovate and change their business models and operations in response to challenges of environmental change. Second, for this collaborative strategy of aligning diverse elements to succeed, governments and IOs must place themselves at a social proximity with their regulatory objects in order to nudge and coordinate. This may include facilitating network formation and consolidation – the very infrastructure of collaboration and coordination – as well as occupying particular strategic spaces within such networks to maximize orchestration capacity.

The existing debates on public orchestration lack an engagement with the network features of transnational governance, which may limit the applicability and effectiveness of orchestration as a public policy tool. The existing literature argues that governments and IOs need to orchestrate a wide variety of actors and factors towards a wished-for set of objectives. It focuses on the institutional features and trajectories of transnational governance, and on their instrumental and structural elements (partnerships, engagement with multistakeholder initiatives, incentives, financing of research & investment). These are relevant and important factors, but lead to a narrow set of possible orchestration measures. We argue that network formation and consolidation elements of TEG, and therefore of orchestration, merit more attention than it has been accorded so far. In other words, we need to know more about how governments and IOs themselves shape, and are embedded in, transnational environmental networks. Through Social Network Analysis (SNA), we not only map these networks and explain their main characteristics, but also identify the points of stricture and/or of possible intervention that have the most potential to align polyarchic and complex webs of initiatives with regulatory goals.

In this paper, we seek to develop a novel approach for understanding TEG that blends institutional and structural elements with social network factors.  Empirically, we apply this approach to the aviation sector in view of explaining orchestration dynamics and social network formation and consolidation in the governance of environmental concerns, with specific focus on its most important instrument – the adoption of biofuels. In section 2, we review and engage with the main relevant debates on transnational governance of social, economic and environmental life, with particular attention to current debates on public orchestration. In section 3, we make the case for what social network theory and analysis can do to improve our understanding of transnational governance and of orchestration. In section 4, we explain our methodological approaches in detail. In section 5, we provide the bulk of empirical evidence on our case study of aviation biofuels: we first explain the main features of this emerging industry. Then, we examine various orchestration instruments that have been employed in shaping a transnational environmental governance system for aviation: directive, facilitative, regulatory threat, and network instruments. In the conclusion, we return to the wider debates on transnational environmental governance and the limits and possibilities of orchestration.