Driving public acceptance (instead of skepticism) of technologies enabling bioenergy production : A corporate social responsibility perspective

Taufik, Danny; Dagevos, Hans


Public acceptance of industrial activities to implement bioenergy technologies is not self-evident. Little is known about how public acceptance of such industrial activities can be increased, though public acceptance is critical to make the transition towards renewable energy. In the current study, we use a corporate social responsibility framework to examine which types of citizen attributions of industry motives to implement bioenergy technologies are associated with public acceptance (versus skepticism) of these industrial activities, in terms of trust and greenwashing perceptions. Findings from a survey conducted in four European countries (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, Spain, Sweden; n = 3054) demonstrate that an important step towards public acceptance lies in citizens viewing this industrial activity as values-driven: the stronger the values-driven attributions are, the more (integrity-based) trust citizens have and the less this industrial activity is perceived as greenwashing. The strength of the relation between values-driven attributions with both trust and greenwashing is particularly pronounced among citizens who view themselves as knowledgeable on renewable energy technologies. Furthermore, citizen attributions to strictly self-benefitting causes (egoistic-driven, strategic-driven) are associated with less trust and stronger greenwashing perceptions. To conclude, the more citizens attribute industries’ implementation of bioenergy technologies to core social, moral values, the greater the public acceptance of these technological advancements.