Naghmeh Taghavi

How to improve energy efficiency in operations

​Operations rely on energy in the production and transportation of goods and services. Recent events and its consequences have caused supply chain disruptions and energy price hikes, and this requires not only to use alternative energy sources but also pacing and accelerating the improvement of energy efficiency. However, companies need more guidance to embrace engagement in and replication of such an improvement, in order to cultivate conditions that encourage practicing sustainability in the workplace. Naghmeh Taghavi investigates this in her doctoral thesis.

​What challenges do you focus on in your research?

"Whereas sustainability orientation has been initiated at the corporate level through including sustainability oriented ambitions in corporations' strategic directions, how those ends might be achieved in practice is not thoroughly clear. Specifically, while energy efficiency is considered as a legitimate sustainability-related objective, companies still have little incentive to increase the energy efficiency of their operations.  As a result, a great potential for improved energy efficiency has remained to be achieved via engaging in and replicating non-technological improvements."

"However, promoting and sustaining such improvements requires strategic-operational alignment for resources utilization and influencing individual and collective actions via developing people's skills and competences.  Therefore, my research focuses on complexities of connecting strategic-operational priorities, as well as challenge in integration between objectives and actionable practices within and across organizations to improve energy efficiency and to facilitate practicing sustainability."

How do you address the problem with your research?

"My research expands current understandings of improving energy efficiency in operations as a firm-based practice. Therefore, in my research,  first I investigate which activities shape the process of improving energy efficiency in operations, how and why actions and meanings lead to improved energy efficiency and by whom the activities are interpreted and employed. Such an understanding can ensure a consensus and close interaction of different stakeholders and as a result enable actualization of objectives for energy efficiency."

"Later, I investigate improving energy efficiency in operations as a practice which interrelates with both corporate -level sustainability-related strategic intentions as well as other strategic intentions for operations and how they mutually influence each other. By exploring originations' strategic-operational alignment, I seek to address the challenge of realization of different strategies in operations."

"Finally, I investigate mechanisms to integrate and coordinate interaction between individuals within organization to foster changes as a means to promote sustainability through building up competences, and ensuring continuity and repeatedly achieving improvements."

What are the main findings of your research?

"The findings showcase examples of the bidirectional perspective on synergy between operations management and energy management. Moreover, they suggest that the process of actualizing corporate-level objectives for energy efficiency in operations is not a top–down or bottom–up escalation of either the organization’s strategic intentions for sustainability or its strategic intentions for operations – but a continuous participatory process. By extension, the findings highlight an intermediate level of actors expanding the top-down duality of individuals. These actors foster improved energy efficiency in operations in their attempt to create an overlap between their roles and responsibilities and improving energy efficiency."

"By capturing how individuals engage in improvements, the findings suggest that improving energy efficiency in operations is deployed in practice not via sequential steps but via loops that can be generated in three ways: taking advantage of a mutual language, creating common interpretations, and fostering mutual interest. In that light, the findings advocates sharing accountability across domains while at once integrating competencies, instead of institutionalizing improving energy efficiency in operations in roles that lack decisive power and proximity to operations."

"Furthermore, the findings reveal how improving energy efficiency in operations can serve as a launchpad for facilitating knowledge exchange, by placing individuals together and allowing them to share knowledge via formal and informal mechanisms and, as a result, cultivate changes in individual and collective actions and understandings via three processes: sharing knowledge between experts and novices, embedding knowledge in material elements and infrastructure, and treating the innovation of knowledge as an ongoing process."

What do you hope your research will lead to?

"I hope that my research can help companies and guide practitioners to continue engaging in improvement through promoting strategic-operational alignment to improve energy efficiency in operations instead of positioning energy efficiency as a condition or outcome of operations management. Moreover by illuminating the evolution of sustainability as practice, I hope this research can ensure development over time as a means to realize the sustainable development of operation."

Text compilation: Daniel Karlsson

The author will defend the thesis on 13 June 2022 at 13.15, see link on the thesis’ page

Page manager Published: Thu 09 Jun 2022.