Long Energy Transitions:

The Global Energy Industry, Investors, and the International Firm


Special Joint Initiative: The Grand Challenge of Energy Transitions

Journal of International Business Studies and the British Journal of Management


For the last decade, the global energy mix has significantly shifted towards renewables.  However, the scale and scope of adoption has varied greatly from one national context to the other, and also in terms of firm-level strategies.  


At a national level, there is a growing body of evidence that within the developed common law, in liberal market economies, the national policy framework remains relatively favourable towards supporting the hydrocarbons industry (Brown and Hess 2016; Boersma and Johnson 2012; Jacoby et al. 2011; Chasek 2007). Conversely, within many developed civil law coordinated markets, the policy agenda has significantly shifted to renewables (Renn and Marshall 2016; Szulecki et al. 2016; Reiner et al 2006; Chasek 2007). Related to this is the investment ecosystem (Toke and Lauber 2007; Szulecki et al. 2016). Although seemingly significant, US and UK investment in renewables has been rather more modest in proportionate terms, and the policy environment much more challenging than in the case of a number of more coordinated markets (Sawin et al. 2010; Reiner et al. 2006. Hydrocarbon-focused firms have been increasingly associated with high levels of debt leverage (Gevorkyan and Semmler 2016; Lehn and Zhu 2016) and their interests have coincided with highly mobile, short-term investors seizing advantages conferred by speculation and unrealistic expectations (Frynas et al. 2017). In contrast, renewable energy has high set-up costs, but lower longer-term maintenance expenditures, and would seem suited to the interests of patient investors (Salm 2017).  In emerging markets, policy responses have typically been less coherent, although major nation-states, such as China, have increasingly looked towards promoting a greater usage of renewables, and have fine-tuned industry incentives accordingly.


An additional complexity is that many large multinational enterprises active in the energy sector have diversified product and geographic activity portfolios (Grant 2003; Verbeke 2013). These companies operate in many markets, thereby often spanning conventional and renewable energy related activities, and covering a wide range of institutional domains, where they face a variety of relevant stakeholder groups.  These stakeholder groups may be embedded in the firm’s governance structure (as with state-owned enterprises), or organized in social networks of varying strength and density (Bass and Chakrabarty 2014; Hiatt, Grandy and Lee 2015). These firms therefore need to navigate multiple, contradictory environmental pressures, some of which may facilitate the conduct of business, whereas other ones impose constraints on existing operations and require novel resource combinations, as well as creative institutional work (Escobar and Vredenburg 2011; Pacheco, York and Hargrave 2014).  One critical challenge for energy firms is whether to respond pro-actively, when non-market actors attempt to ‘impose’ innovations on industry  (Backman, Verbeke and Schulz 2017; Verbeke, Osiyevskyy and Backman 2017).


The aim of the themed section is to showcase new and pathbreaking work that engages with these great questions of our current age.   Papers should aim to link structural changes in the global energy mix and the associated investor ecosystem to developments at organizational level; the primary focus should be international and comparative. 


We invite papers that provide new empirical evidence, and engage with salient bodies of theoretical and applied knowledge.  We are open to a wide range of different methodologies and theoretical starting points, but would expect studies of a scale and scope at par with work normally published in leading scholarly journals.  We are not looking for purely conceptual papers, review articles or entirely theoretical contributions.  Authors of shortlisted papers will be required to present their work at a paper development workshop, which will be held at a leading international conference.  Final accepted papers will be allocated to whichever of the two journals provides the best fit. 


In the first instance, authors should submit proposals of a maximum of 1,000 words, plus short author biographies.  Proposals should include the key research question,  theoretical underpinnings, empirical foundations, and expected key contributions.




Closing date for submission of proposals: 15 January 2018.

Closing date for submission of papers based on accepted proposals 31 July 2018.


Contact Details


Paper proposals should be submitted to [log in to unmask], with “JIBS/BJM Special Joint Initiative” in the subject field.


Authors wishing to discuss ideas for paper proposals should consult Alain Verbeke ([log in to unmask]) or Geoffrey Wood ([log in to unmask]).




Backman, C.A., Verbeke, A. and Schulz, R.A. 2017. The drivers of corporate climate change strategies and public policy: a new resource-based view perspective. Business & Society56(4), pp.545-575.


Bass, A. E. and Chakrabarty, S. 2014. Resource security: Competition for global resources, strategic intent, and governments as owners. Journal of International Business Studies, 45(8), pp. 961-979.

Boersma, T. and Johnson, C. 2012. The shale gas revolution: US and EU policy and research agendas. Review of Policy Research, 29(4), pp.570-576.


Brown, K.P. and Hess, D.J. 2016. Pathways to policy: Partisanship and bipartisanship in renewable energy legislation. Environmental Politics, 25(6), pp.971-990.


Chasek, P.S. 2007. US policy in the UN environmental arena: powerful laggard or constructive leader? International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 7(4), pp.363-387.


Escobar, L. F., and Vredenburg, H. 2011. Multinational oil companies and the adoption of sustainable development: A resource-based and institutional theory interpretation of adoption heterogeneity. Journal of Business Ethics98(1), pp.39-65.


Frynas, G., Wood, G., and Hinks, T.  2017. The Resource Curse without Natural Resources: Expectations of Resource Booms and their Impact. African Affairs. Early online at: https://academic.oup.com/afraf/article/2968106/The-resource-curse-without-natural-resources


Gevorkyan, A. and Semmler, W. 2016. Oil price, overleveraging and shakeout in the shale energy sector—Game changers in the oil industry. Economic Modelling, 54, pp.244-259.


Grant, R.M. 2003. Strategic planning in a turbulent environment: Evidence from the oil majors. Strategic Management Journal24(6), pp.491-517.


Hiatt, S.R., Grandy, J.B. and Lee, B.H. 2015. Organizational responses to public and private politics: An analysis of climate change activists and US oil and gas firms. Organization Science26(6), pp.1769-1786.


Jacoby, H.D., O'Sullivan, F.M. and Paltsev, S. 2011. The influence of shale gas on US energy and environmental policy. MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.


Klass, D.L. 2003. A critical assessment of renewable energy usage in the USA. Energy Policy, 31(4), pp.353-367.


Lehn, K. and Zhu, P. 2016. Debt, Investment and Production in the US Oil Industry: An Analysis of the 2014 Oil Price Shock. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2817123


Pacheco, D.F., York, J.G. and Hargrave, T.J. 2014. The coevolution of industries, social movements, and institutions: Wind power in the United States. Organization Science25(6), pp.1609-1632.


Reiner, D.M., Curry, T.E., De Figueiredo, M.A., Herzog, H.J., Ansolabehere, S.D., Itaoka, K., Johnsson, F. and Odenberger, M., 2006. American exceptionalism? Similarities and differences in national attitudes toward energy policy and global warming. Environmental Science Policy, 40, 7: 2093-2098.


Renn, O. and Marshall, J.P. 2016. Coal, nuclear and renewable energy policies in Germany: From the 1950s to the “Energiewende”. Energy Policy, 99, pp.224-232.


Salm, S. 2017. The investor-specific price of renewable energy project risk–A choice experiment with incumbent utilities and institutional investors. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Early online at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032117305117


Sawin, J.L., Martinot, E., Barnes, D., McCrone, A., Roussell, J., Sims, R., Sonntag-O'Brien, V., Adib, R., Skeen, J., Musolino, E. and Riahi, L. 2010. Renewables 2011-Global status report.


Szulecki, K., Fischer, S., Gullberg, A.T. and Sartor, O. 2016. Shaping the ‘Energy Union': between national positions and governance innovation in EU energy and climate policy. Climate Policy, 16(5), pp.548-567.


Toke, D. and Lauber, V. 2007. Anglo-Saxon and German approaches to neoliberalism and environmental policy: The case of financing renewable energy. Geoforum, 38(4), pp.677-687.


Verbeke, A.  2013.  International Business Strategy.  Cambridge University Press.


Verbeke, A., Osiyevskyy, O. and Backman, C.A. 2017. Strategic responses to imposed innovation projects: The case of carbon capture and storage in the Alberta oil sands industry. Long Range Planning. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lrp.2017.03.002


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