'If Chemists Don't Do It, Who's Going To?' Peer-Driven Occupational Change and the Emergence of Green Chemistry

Administrative Science Quarterly, Forthcoming

63 Pages Posted: 2 May 2017

See all articles by Jennifer Howard‐Grenville

Jennifer Howard‐Grenville

University of Oregon - Charles H. Lundquist School of Business

Andrew J. Nelson

University of Oregon

Andrew Earle

University of New Hampshire - Department of Management

Julie Haack

University of Oregon

Doug Young

Lane Community College

Date Written: October 7, 2016

Abstract

Occupational membership guides what people do, how they think of themselves, and how they interact in organizations and with society. While a rich literature explains how occupations adapt in response to external triggers for change, we have limited insight into how occupational incumbents, absent external triggers, work to influence how their peers do their work. We investigate the emergence and growth of “green chemistry,” an effort by chemists to encourage other chemists to reduce the health, safety, and environmental impacts of chemical products and processes. We find that advocates simultaneously advanced normalizing, moralizing, and pragmatizing frames for green chemistry and that each frame resonated differently with chemists in their various occupational roles. While this pluralistic approach generated broad acceptance of the change effort, it also exposed tensions, which threatened the coherence of the change. Divergent responses of advocates to these tensions contribute to a persistent state of pluralism and dynamism in the change effort. We discuss implications for theory on occupational change arising from our attention to internally-generated peer-driven change, heterogeneity within occupations, and change efforts that moralize occupational work.

Keywords: occupations, occupational change, technology, sustainability, green chemistry

JEL Classification: J00, L65, M14, O3, Q5

Suggested Citation

Howard-Grenville, Jennifer and Nelson, Andrew J. and Earle, Andrew and Haack, Julie and Young, Doug, 'If Chemists Don't Do It, Who's Going To?' Peer-Driven Occupational Change and the Emergence of Green Chemistry (October 7, 2016). Administrative Science Quarterly, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2947303

Jennifer Howard-Grenville

University of Oregon - Charles H. Lundquist School of Business ( email )

1208 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1208
United States

Andrew J. Nelson (Contact Author)

University of Oregon ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403-1208
United States

Andrew Earle

University of New Hampshire - Department of Management ( email )

Durham, NH 03824
United States

Julie Haack

University of Oregon ( email )

1280 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
United States

Doug Young

Lane Community College ( email )

4000 East 30th Ave.
Eugene, OR 97405
United States

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