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Bottling water, greening farmers: the socio-technical and managerial construction of a 'dispositif' for underground water quality protection

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This paper proposes the description and analysis of the dynamics of an innovation process, which, over ten years ago, enabled a mineral water company to start protecting its underground water and to overcome a classical negative externality problem of no point-source nitrogen pollution. Based on methodological reflection and discussion of the dynamics of socio-technical arrangement in the Actor-Network Theory (ANT), this paper proposes a perspective in terms of the Foucaldian notion of 'dispositif'. By examining the arenas of the process, the dynamics and agency of arrangements in between actors is captured. Then the black boxing of the innovation process into a management setting of subsurface water quality and of the local agricultural system is analysed as a governance structure. In the conclusion, we highlight the performative role of scientific activities in this case, and the necessity to consider the embeddedness of socio-technical and political arrangements in such management settings as a value creation for sustainable development.

Keywords: management studies, actor network theory, ANT, underground water, no point source nitrogen pollution, externality, innovation, sustainable agriculture, research practices, dispositif, water quality, agricultural governance, sustainability, sociotechnical, sustainable development, mineral water, bottled water

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