Changes in Organizational Culture, Changes in Adaptive Capacity?

In Karen O'Brien and Elin Selboe (eds), The Adaptive Challenge of Climate Change. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 213-229.

This chapter argues that organizational culture is a vital yet often overlooked dimension of climate change adaptive capacity and shows that including it in an integrated analytical framework can modify or even change conclusions about adaptive capacity based on analyses of formal organizational factors. Drawing upon organizational theory, this chapter presents a comparative analysis of how organizational changes in two quasi-public network services, the Norwegian and Swedish electricity grid sectors, influenced adaptive capacity to extreme weather events that can be associated with climate change. Two perspectives are used to underline this important message: an instrumental perspective and an institutional-cultural perspective. The findings show that both the formal structure and organizational culture highly influence adaptive capacity to climate change. These influences can be positive or negative depending on context. The change in formal structure and organizational culture in the Norwegian electricity sector effectively reduced adaptive capacity to any challenge not encouraged by regulatory regime and/or legitimized by economic efficiency arguments. Equivalent influences from formal and cultural factors are found for Sweden although the changes in the sector have been less transformative, and the considerations between efficiency and security of supply have been more balanced. Based on this research we conclude that the capacity to adapt to climate change and extreme weather events is greater within the Swedish than the Norwegian electricity grid sector.