Academic journal article Review of European Studies

The Macro-Environment for Liquid Biofuels in German Science, Mass Media and Government

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

The Macro-Environment for Liquid Biofuels in German Science, Mass Media and Government

Article excerpt


This paper aims to investigate the dimensions under which the macro-environment for liquid biofuels has been structured during the time, respectively by German scientists, journalists, and policy-makers, and how these three stakeholders related to each other. Research was carried out on German official government documents (168 documents), mass media news (760 news), and scientific articles (168 articles) on the topic 'liquid biofuels'. Text Mining techniques were used to extract knowledge from textual documents' content. The results indicate that German scientists have used environmental, agronomic and technological dimension more frequently; journalists focused more on geopolitical and economics dimensions; and, policy-makers have emphasized more technological, geopolitical and environmental dimensions. Adherence and Homogeneity Tests suggest that there is some degree of proximity between mass media and government, less between mass media and science, and the least between government and science when configurating the macro-environment for liquid biofuels.

Keywords: bioenergy, ethanol, biodiesel, text mining, macro-environmental scanning

1. Introduction

Economic interest on renewable fuels has grown considerably, particularly the production and consumption of liquid biofuels, namely biodiesel and ethanol. Biodiesel and ethanol production soared around the globe, mainly in United States, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy and Spain (IEA, 2009). According to Bockey (2009) biodiesel is one of the most promising renewable fuels in Germany, followed by ethanol. Biodiesel has emerged as the leading liquid biofuel option partially because of the ready availability of raw materials for its production, mainly rapeseed (Bockey, 2009). According to European Biodiesel Board - EBB, from 1998 to 2008 German biodiesel production has moved from a modest level near 100,000 metric tonnes to 2,819,000 metric tonnes (EBB, 2009). The EBB data show that Germany not only is the leader European country in biodiesel production, but also that Germany has the highest production capacity among the EU-27 members.

The increase in the production level and production capacity means that the liquid biofuel businesses are attracting more and more investments along the production chain, from farmers to processors and distribution stages. Therefore, it seems that decision-makers in German liquid biofuels sector and related to it would be interested in scanning the industry macro-environment properly as a way to support their strategic planning and the decision making process. The macro-enviromental scanning is a first and important stage in the strategic planning process through which the decision makers can look out for the patterns and changes in the industry's environment as a way to gather informations which help them in the decision making process (Johnson, Scholes, & Whittington, 2008).

The macro-environment for a specific industry or sector can affect business in different ways. It can be configured by the interaction between a wide range of stakeholders, namely policy-makers, scientists and journalists, along the public and the industry/sector actors. As a new field of interest and investments, the liquid biofuels sector asks for a set of particular public policy to regulate it, to create incentives and/or to draw some limits or constraints to its activities. In such a case, the German government can be seen as a player with an important role in the liquid biofuels macro-environment configuration in Germany and in Europe as well (Balat, 2007; Talamini, Wubben, Padula, & Dewes, 2013). Scientists, on the one hand, by their knowledge itself and their contributions to the technological development, can influence the macro-enviroment configuration of a certain business by their interaction with policy-makers and journalists, suggesting a new set of concerns and technical aspects to be referred to in public policy or in mass media messages, according to their scientific findings (Sabatier, 1991; IPCC, 2004). …

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