Inderscience Publishers

Music: a metaphor for industrial ecology

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The term industrial ecology (IE) with its emphasis on symbiotic factories represents a metaphor for how the manufacturing sector can be reconstituted and sent down the path of sustainable development (SD). However, that journey cannot proceed until several obstacles have been removed or circumvented. The one discussed and analysed in this paper deals with how to initiate organisationally an IE undertaking composed of multiple members. Transaction cost economics provides the conceptual foundation for revealing why the exchanges among the IE members are problematic. These exchange difficulties have been aggravated by the universalist stance usually implied in the SD literature. To counter this, the music metaphor (emphasising performers working together) provides the mental vehicle for demonstrating that IE projects can be hypothetically organised both universally and particularly. To put realism into this conjecture, brief vignettes of industrial icons from the European Union, India, and the USA show that cultural preferences for industrial organisation do exist. These 'national' preferences (labelled conductor, master, and star) when applied to the universal cement kiln introduced herein show that there are culturally superior methods for organising national IE undertakings and moving industrial actors in a more sustainable direction.

Keywords: industrial ecology, industrial symbiosis, metaphor, music, economic exchanges, sustainable development, sustainability, manufacturing industry, transaction costs, cultural preferences, universal cement kiln

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