A socio-technical approach to improving retail energy efficiency behaviours

Sian Christina (Lead Author), Patrick Waterson, Andrew Dainty, Kevin Daniels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, the UK retail sector has made a significant contribution to societal responses on carbon reduction. We provide a novel and timely examination of environmental sustainability from a systems perspective, exploring how energy-related technologies and strategies are incorporated into organisational life. We use a longitudinal case study approach, looking at behavioural energy efficiency from within one of the UK's leading retailers. Our data covers a two-year period, with qualitative data from a total of 131 participants gathered using phased interviews and focus groups. We introduce an adapted socio-technical framework approach in order to describe an existing organisational behavioural strategy to support retail energy efficiency. Our findings point to crucial socio-technical and goal-setting factors which both impede and/or enable energy efficient behaviours, these include: tensions linked to store level perception of energy management goals; an emphasis on the importance of technology for underpinning change processes; and, the need for feedback and incentives to support the completion of energy-related tasks. We also describe the evolution of a practical operational intervention designed to address issues raised in our findings. Our study provides fresh insights into how sustainable workplace behaviours can be achieved and sustained over time. Secondly, we discuss in detail a set of issues arising from goal conflict in the workplace; these include the development of a practical energy management strategy to facilitate secondary organisational goals through job redesign.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324–335
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Early online date30 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Energy efficiency
  • Multiple goal conflict
  • Job design

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