Implementation of Hydrogen Technologies in Slovenia: Identification of Resistance to Change Factors by a Comparative Study
This thesis outlines the implementation processes for a new technology in selected countries and identifies the resistance to change can a change agent can come up against during the implementations process. The starting point for the thesis takes hydrogen as a breakthrough technology, and through the literature review process identifies certain obstacles to change. The implementation of a new technology brings with it resistance to change in the working structure (Ministry) as a whole or by individuals at the expert or political level. The sources of such evidence are found throughout the literature review related to change, change agents, political and organizational change and the implementation of new technology and case study analysis. The thesis develops a concept around typical cases (sampling groups) and is based on qualitative research on three levels of actors in the decision-making and implementation process (experts, political decision makers, and directors of public agencies that are implementing measures on a national scale). In accordance with the research design scheme four European countries were chosen for (case study) comparison: Slovenia, Germany, Denmark and Norway. The purpose and aim of these typical cases is to contribute to the central subject and aim of this thesis – to better understand the systems in the selected countries and, based on the experiences of those countries, together with Slovenia, to ultimately propose a practical approach to developing national programs in Slovenia. The aim of this thesis is not to argue whether hydrogen is the energy source of the future. Instead the aim is to show, through the use of hydrogen and fuel cells, an example of how Slovenia should react with measures designed to implement new technologies. The implementation of a new technology is a long-term process, where measures need to be considered that involve all sectors of society. Every country has its own unique environment (economy, industry and similar) where different approaches to specific implementation scenarios are required. The unique environment of each respective country is seen as a defining limit to the thesis, when the implementation practices of the selected countries are identified and, based on the analysis, new measures are proposed for Slovenia. The methodology used here is based on a time “snapshot” that shows the degree of early market penetration of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in mobile and stationary applications in three developed countries that lead in the development and early adoption of these technologies, together with the same for Slovenia. Qualitative methods are also effective in identifying intangible factors, such as social norms, socioeconomic status, gender roles, ethnicity, and religion. When used along with quantitative methods, qualitative research can help us to interpret and better understand the complex reality of a given situation and the implications of quantitative data” (Mack, 2005). The thesis confirms the theory of resistance to change through the responses by actors involved in the decision and implementation process. This result is also implication for theory. The results of the analysis outline the structure of the government procedures in each country and how the government determines national priorities and allocates the proper financial and human resources for continued related activities through the years ahead. Evidence from the analysis show that all three compared countries understand that national priorities need to be realised through efficient national programs that include collaboration between the experts and ministry staff who work on preparing the program. It is vital to assure continuity, ongoing financial resources and precise goals for the efficient implementation of new technology. The thesis provides implication for practice aimed at improving the implementation process of new technology by improving implementation steps in horizontal coordination and communication, accepting the fact that resistance is part of the process, and such resistance might be overcome. Other EU countries that are in the early stages of implementing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies on the national level could well benefit from this approach. Evidence indicates that in the process of qualitative research, researchers sample targets directly to gather data that will fit the aim of the work instead of following statistical representation. Targeted research aims to simultaneously create solutions for practical people problems and opens goals for future science research which is also implication for theory and practice. In order to achieve this, the researcher must on the one hand understand the system that is the subject of the research and in addition, work with people working in the system to produce a solution that is both people-friendly and efficient. Using such an approach, end results will help change the implementation processes applied to new technologies and also show how theoretical work can be transferred to practical implementation. In the research process the author was confronted with several limitations: limitations related to the scope of the research; connected to the hypothesis and research questions; to the choice and number of reference countries. Limitations regarding the methodology included the choice of interviewee groups, the types of interviews, the construction of questionnaires, the collection of responses, limitations regarding the analysis: qualitative research (vs. quantitative), decisions on valid (or invalid) responses with regard to the posed questions, and how this might influence the conviction behind one’s conclusions. Similarly, there are limitations related to the proposed action plan for Slovenia: how strongly is the action plan connected to the conclusions of the research; and which items in the action plan are the direct consequences of the conclusions and which follow as a logical consequence of the previous plans.