Title: Understanding ecodesign through a communities of practice perspective

Authors: Kristen Skelton; Rikke Dorothea Huulgaard; Kirsten Schmidt

Addresses: Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Aalborg 9000, Denmark ' Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Aalborg 9000, Denmark ' Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Copenhagen SV 2450, Denmark

Abstract: Despite many years of tool development and legislative initiatives, companies are still challenged by ecodesign. This article applies Etienne Wenger's communities of practice approach to the existing environmental and product development practices of two Danish case companies. It is a contribution to the current ecodesign discussion and emphasises the social structures and practice perspectives when implementing ecodesign. The case studies reveal the importance of various social elements, which include the participatory role brokers play in organising, facilitating and negotiating meaning with different community members; the use of boundary objects for establishing dialogue and encouraging participation; and the balance between participation and reification in the process of continuously negotiating meaning. In conclusion, ways in which ecodesign can be strengthened using Wenger's principles for cultivating communities of practice are suggested. A diversified approach to ecodesign whereby existing communities can expand their current practices and transform into ecodesign communities is also suggested.

Keywords: ecodesign communities; social structures; communities of practice; CoPs; product development; environmental brokers; Denmark; case studies.

DOI: 10.1504/IJETM.2016.074810

International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management, 2016 Vol.19 No.1, pp.40 - 58

Accepted: 06 Nov 2015
Published online: 18 Feb 2016 *

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