Innovative organisation of networks can help shape the market towards sustainability

Market shaping through innovative organising of networks is key for business transactions towards sustainability, reveals a doctoral dissertation by Rumy Narayan at the University of Vaasa.

Market shaping is a way by which firms adapt markets to suit their purpose, instead of adapting to the market, and in that, they change market characteristics or build new markets. This is a critical strategic move for transitioning towards sustainability. However, transitions towards sustainability and sustainable energy systems are often very complex and emergent challenges, and they cannot be achieved by relying on the traditional thinking of the firms or their managers.

– Managerial actions are intrinsically linked to how managers perceive themselves and their environments.We need to look beyond singular ways of thinking and being and appreciate diversity in all forms. Diversity allows us the freedom to make choices within contexts and takes us beyond ideological positions that bind us to particular ways of thinking and acting. Learning comes from making those choices, Narayan explains.

Building networks can help address sustainability challenges

Narayan says that in the current context which is driven by fossil-dominated energy systems and related ecosystems, the sustainable transition often means only incremental change, with the underlying desire to preserve and sustain existing systems.

She gives an example of fuel-efficient cars. Fuel-efficient is better than a car that is not fuel-efficient, but maybe one ends up driving more with a fuel-efficient car. Narayan points out that the driving culture itself is not questioned.

– Cultures are notoriously difficult to change, so there is a need to establish a connection with something familiar. The familiarity evokes connections that help in expanding the contexts that instigate the need for change.

Narayan used ethnographic and nethnographic methods, and explored these phenomena in the Finnish context. Sitra used the idea of Circular Economy initially to talk about innovation, new technologies, and new market opportunities, to attract the attention of Finnish companies. As the companies began exploring these opportunities, it dawned on them that while these outcomes of circular economy are indeed a possibility, there is a need for a fundamental change in their thinking about business and society.

– This became the main catalyst for my research process. My further research revealed that sustainability is an innovative process. Such processes are inherently complex making it impossible to organise and manage activities without decentralising and distributing them. This was demonstrated in my article on waste management, says Narayan.

This strategic combination of decentralisation and distribution is innovative organising of networks, that involves a wide range of societal actors. They contribute through collaboration and competition to the imagination, ideation, organisation, and management of new ways of addressing continuously evolving and emerging challenges that threaten sustainability. 

Doctoral dissertation

Narayan, Rumy (2023) Imagining market shaping through innovative organizing for transitions to sustainable energy systems. Acta Wasaensia 504. Väitöskirja. Vaasan yliopisto / University of Vaasa.

Publication pdf

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Rumy Narayan’s doctoral dissertation “Imagining market shaping through innovative organizing for transitions to sustainable energy systems" will be held on Friday 24 March 2023 at 14 at the University of Vaasa, Auditorium Kurtén.

Participation in the defence is possible also online (Zoom, password: 623277)
Professor Stefanos Mouzas (Lancaster University Management School) will act as the opponent and Professor Annika Tidström as the custos.


Further information

Rumy Narayan,

Rumy Narayan was born in India in 1974. She received her Bachelor's degree in 1996 from Loreto College and his Master's degree in 2013 from Blekinge Institute of Technology. In her earlier career, she has worked as a financial journalist, information analyst, sustainability manager and consultant, among others. She is currently working as a project researcher at the University of Vaasa.

Did you like the article?