Stimulating the diffusion of environmental technologies through export
Abstract: Contemporary environmental problems represent complex societal challenges, and as these problems become increasingly global, the international diffusion of environmental technologies is essential. One way to diffuse technologies internationally is through export. Despite the potential benefits from the adoption of environmental technologies, their export is stifled by externalities and free-rider problems.From this background, the aim of this thesis is to analyse how to stimulate the diffusion of environmental technologies through export. This aim is operationalised using four research questions, which focus on governmental initiatives to promote environmental technology export and their perceived effectiveness among targeted firms, obstacles to and drivers for export among municipally owned companies, the use of international city networks to facilitate environmental technology export and components of business concepts for environmental technology export. These questions are explored in the Swedish context using document analyses, interviews and internet surveys in a compilation thesis which consists of a cover essay and an appendix of five scientifically peer-reviewed and published journal articles.The conclusions are that governmental export promotion initiatives are often generic for all kinds of exporters, including environmental technologies, and comprise financial support, information provision, education and training, and trade and mobility-related programs, often with little incorporation of the specific characteristics of environmental technologies which many exporters perceive as ineffective. Municipally owned companies experience different barriers to and drivers for engaging in international activities compared to privately owned companies, and are often involved in international projects which are not always commercial export. International city networks serve as important arenas for bi-directional information sharing and learning regarding market characteristics, environmental challenges and potential solutions, building legitimacy for technologies and their suppliers. Regarding components of business concepts for the export of environmental technologies, regulation, legitimacy and private-public partnership are identified as particularly important based on the complexity and systemic nature of environmental technologies.Altogether, this thesis makes a contribution by conceptualising the export of environmental technologies with emphasis on technology characteristics, the technology supplier including their business concepts, obstacles to and drivers for export, technology adopters and their characterisation, communication channels and the diffusion context. For policy makers, a dynamic approach to environmental technology export promotion, in which specific attributes of environmental technologies and their suppliers are considered along their international business development, is suggested as a complement to existing generic initiatives. The possibility to provide such support should be reconciled with resource effectiveness, heterogeneity among companies and the complementary role of governmental interventions to market initiatives. Finally, partnerships between publicly and privately owned companies are suggested as particularly relevant since they build on the long-term experience, functioning proof-of-concept and legitimacy of publicly owned companies together with the competitiveness and flexibility of privately owned companies. These attributes could help overcome the liabilities of foreignness and newness, as well as resource constraints which challenge environmental technology export.
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