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Entrepreneurship and alignment work in the Swedish water and sanitation sector
Division of Organization and Management, Mälardalen University, Högskoleplan 1, 722 20, Västerås, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3865-7609
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9568-9813
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0611-7512
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology, Applied Thermodynamics and Refrigeration.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3194-1762
2023 (English)In: Technology in society, ISSN 0160-791X, E-ISSN 1879-3274, Vol. 74, article id 102280Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Water and sewage (WS) systems are, like most grid based infrastructural systems, often centralised and hierarchical and the end user has almost no possibility to influence the technical standards, business models or system architecture. The preferred method for connecting new areas to the grid are underground water pipes and gravity flow for sewage. Thus, the WS system is “tightly coupled”. It is hard to change and conservative in its system culture, exhibiting a strong “momentum” or “path dependence”. In this article we investigate an unusual case in the development of WS-systems. As a rule, WS-systems, as most infrastructural systems, develop gradually through incremental innovations, and system owners/utilities traditionally build their systems “from the inside out”. In our case, we investigate a situation where the end users took the initiative to connect a residential area, Aspvik, part of the municipality of Värmdö, outside Stockholm, Sweden, to the municipal grid and thus expand the WS-system, not from the inside out, but from the outside in. Furthermore, we highlight another unusual feature: the role of a resident that acted as the “entrepreneur” in this process of WS-system expansion. The entrepreneur had unique trust building abilities in the local community, which the regime actor (the WS utility), could not match. Historically, inventor-entrepreneurs have been common, acting as “system builders” in the establishment phase of new infrastructural systems. However, entrepreneurs outside the regime are not common in the WS sector. Although atypical in mature WS systems in developed countries, these types of local initiatives or hybrid solutions are common in developing countries. In this article, we argue that there are lessons to be learnt from our case, when dealing with system expansion processes both inside and outside the Global North.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier BV , 2023. Vol. 74, article id 102280
Keywords [en]
Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure, Innovation, Sustainability transitions, Water and sanitation systems (WSS)
National Category
Water Engineering Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-331429DOI: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2023.102280ISI: 001030441400001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85161852790OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-331429DiVA, id: diva2:1781608
Note

QC 20231122

Available from: 2023-07-10 Created: 2023-07-10 Last updated: 2023-11-22Bibliographically approved

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Blomkvist, PärKarpouzoglou, TimonNilsson, DavidWallin, Jörgen

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