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Leaders and Lemmings: Organizational Responses to Smart Grid Transformation

By Jacqueline Corbett


After a century of relative stability in the electricity sector, introduction of the smart grid has triggered a period of great uncertainty with the potential for wide-spread and long-lasting impacts. When faced with pressures that threaten established institutionalized practices, incumbent organizations may respond in a variety of ways, ranging from resistance to manipulation. This paper reports the findings from a qualitative field study that explores how utilities, the organizations at the core of the electricity sector, are responding to institutional pressures and what it means for their deployment of smart grid technologies. Under coercive and mimetic pressures, utilities respond with avoidance by taking a wait-and-see approach, or acquiescence, simply following direction of others. In contrast, organizations that perceive benefits of smart grid technologies beyond the need for compliance adopt manipulation strategies, becoming more engaged in shaping the transformation and experimenting with new technologies to enhance their stature and performance

Publisher: AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Year: 2012
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