Banning the bulb: institutional evolution and the phased ban of incandescent lighting in Germany

Howarth, Nicholas A A and Rosenow, Jan (2014) Banning the bulb: institutional evolution and the phased ban of incandescent lighting in Germany. Energy Policy, 67. pp. 737-746. ISSN 0301-4215

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Much academic attention has been directed at analysing energy efficiency investments through the lens of ‘behavioural failure’. These studies have challenged the neoclassical framing of regulation which emphasises the efficiency benefits of price based policy, underpinned by the notion of rational individual self-mastery. The increasing use of a regulatory ban on electric lamps in many countries is one of the most recent and high profile flash points in this dialectic of ‘freedom-versus-the-state’ in the public policy discourse. This paper interrogates this debate through a study of electric lamp diffusion in Germany. It is argued that neoclassical theory and equilibrium analysis is inadequate as a tool for policy analysis as it takes the formation of market institutions, such as existing regulations, for granted. Further still, it may be prone to encourage idealistic debates around such grand narratives which may in practice simply serve those who benefit most from the status quo. Instead we argue for an evolutionary approach which we suggest offers a more pragmatic framing tool which focuses on the formation of market institutions in light of shifting social norms and political goals—in our case, progress towards energy efficiency and environmental goals.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Nora Blascsok
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2015 16:22
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2019 02:20

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