The current and rapidly changing competitive environment presents potential opportunities and threats for the renewable energy sector. Renewable energy is the strongest pillar of the energy system and has the potential to use emerging management practices [1
]. These factors imply that organizations should adopt emerging management practices to respond competitively. The literature suggests that various management practices are utilized by different firms to increase their outcome and cope with changing market trends. Other organizations try to replicate these practices and resources to improve their productivity. According to Michael [2
], for every organization, motivated and creative human capital is the only resource of the organization that cannot be imitated, replaced, or reproduced. An organization’s crucial responsibility is to enhance customers’ experience and society at large through existing human resources. Hamel [3
] asserted that emerging management practices, which were initiated at the start of the 19th century, have reached their limit of improvement and a new paradigm is now necessary for the era of the 20th century to meet the challenges of an unpredictable world. After the outbreak of Covid-19, it became inevitable to address management issues for organizational growth. Large organizations change strategies by incorporating their organizational resources, which have been built over time.
After the pandemic, the entire structure of organizations changed, whether it is its internal structure or external working environment that needs new practices to handle organizational affairs efficiently. Emerging management practices do not require the transformation of the entire structure of the organization; rather, they require turning the lens toward the working procedures of firms. Organizations, especially innovative organizations, may not last unless they apply unique ways of operationalization according to their dynamics and structure, which is only possible through inculcating an efficient knowledge management process [4
]. Therefore, it is important to analyze in depth how to implement emerging management practices, especially knowledge management and decentralization phenomena, to handle the challenges emerging during and after Covid-19 to improve sustainable organizational performance [5
The literature on management practices [6
] explores that while applying emerging management practices, a grounded and knowledge-based point of view is needed. Adhikari [9
] suggested that all strategies and practices must be accompanied by knowledge management to gain a competitive advantage in the modern corporate world. To compete with ever-changing situations around the globe, companies noticed that knowledge in an organization is continuing asset. According to Hustedt, Bohl [10
] it has now been accepted by organizations that knowledge is the true source of power and will increasingly become so as the 21st century progresses. Natek and Zwilling [11
] reported that the corporate world is considering knowledge management processes—acquisition, dissemination, and implementation—as a foundation of its processes. The tentative support of decentralization in organizational growth across sectors is widely noted and discussed by different researchers [12
]. The impact of decentralization triggers increased motivation, sense of ownership, increased employee productivity, and return of net assets, etc. According to Deliotte [15
], many innovative organizational practices emerged in response to Covid-19, such as the central response office, partnering with stakeholders, blended learning with a new focus, and, ultimately, by shifting operations to digital mechanisms. Additionally, leadership readiness to accept change, which consequently leads to the invention of management practices, is important for organizational growth [16
The situation in developing countries during the pandemic is worse, and organizations are striving to seek emerging practices to survive and grow. The renewable energy sector in developing countries is gearing up, and companies are heavily investing in this sector due to the high demand for renewable energy. Hence, this research attempts to explore the challenging problems of the energy sector in emerging economies and contribute theoretically by adding new literature on (1) emerging management practices (2) decentralization and (3) knowledge management, with its application in the current setup of the renewable energy sector. The research also delivers the insight of a “knowledge-based perspective” that suggests that policymakers design policies according to modern requirements of the current era. Pakistan is the sixth-largest populous country, with an integral geographical location on the continent of Asia. It requires sufficient energy resources to meet its industrial, commercial, and household demands to keep its growth and development. The potential of renewable energy in Pakistan is above 50,000 MW. The installed capacity of renewable energy during the fiscal year 2019–2020 increased by 6% as compared to the previous year. This indicates that developing countries are heading quickly towards renewable energy production and consumption. The renewable energy sector, especially solar, is growing exponentially, but meanwhile faces a different problem concerning durability [17
]. This is because the demand for neat and clean energy is increasing over time [18
]. The total electricity generation capacity of Pakistan has reached 35,972 MW. The contribution of renewable energy, including wind, solar and hydel, is approximately 8% in total generation capacity. However, as a matter of fact, despite being bestowed with abundant resources and enormous ways of energy generation potential, the country is unable to meet its energy demands and is facing an acute energy shortfall [19
]. Hence, this study contributes uniquely by addressing energy issues in developing countries, specifically in Pakistan, and its findings should be reasonably prolific for practitioners and policymakers in renewable energy companies in developing countries.
3. Methods, Materials, and Research Tools
Since the objective of the study was to explore emerging management practices in-depth in renewable energy companies hence, a qualitative methodology was considered most suitable and appropriate in this context. The qualitative approach was deployed in the research by using interpretive structural modeling, hereafter referred to as “ISM”. ISM is more appropriate when the description and exploration are required through interviews and literature. ISM is more advantageous than other techniques because it helps to draw the research model of the study. Although ISM has been used for a couple of decades, it is still among the most widely used research techniques in qualitative research design. Lee, Saunders [42
] indicated that quicker and real experiences can only be measured through qualitative research methodology. The answer to the untapped and unexplored phenomenon of emerging management practices is not possible through any customary tool except collecting data through interviewing and observing managers who are working in the system, especially in the context of developing countries. For a deeper understanding of the phenomena, a subjective approach to understand a reality where little information is known is considered the best approach [43
]. This study used a systematic literature review for the initial concept and variable identification. Later, these concepts are authorized by experts and practitioners from the renewable energy sector. ISM is a more helpful modeling technique that is used as a tool for logical thinking, approaching complex issues carefully, and then disseminating the results to others [44
]. The ISM process consists of the following (1) Identification of key issues/variables such as the contribution of emerging management practices, KM, and decentralization toward sustainable organizational performance. (2) Identification of relationships between variables using the structural self-interaction matrix, hereafter denoted as “SSIM”. (3) Developing a reachability matrix by converting the SSIM. (4) Testing transitivity in the next step. (5) Deriving model levels using the reachability matrix. (6) Translating the relationship and drawing an ISM model. (7) Reviewing the inconsistencies and revising accordingly. The structural flow is depicted in Figure 1
3.1. Data Collection
The data in this study was gathered through primary and secondary sources. For primary sources, top- and middle-level managers with a minimum of two years of experience and substantial information about the variables of the study were recruited. The interview questions along with the consent form were delivered to them before the interview so they were better informed about the concepts. In the secondary form of data, the information was collected through rigorous literature related to the topic. Both forms of data helped to finalize the variables of the study.
3.2. Sampling Strategy
Aligned to the qualitative research paradigm used for this study, a non-probability sampling strategy was used. It is suggested by Sadler, Lee [46
] that when the population is narrowly defined, a snowball sampling strategy is the best strategy to reach the targeted population. Snowball sampling involves a researcher reaching a successor respondent through a chosen respondent. Hence, this study used a snowball sampling strategy where potential respondents were recruited with the help of existing respondents. A total of 13 respondents was recruited to obtain their responses on the research topic.
The demographic profile of respondents depicts the role of women in the renewable energy sector because women’s participation is minimal in developing countries. Hence, gender participation, along with other demographic factors including age and experience, are shown in the demographic section (Table 3
denotes that 62% of the total sample were male participants while 38% of participants in the study were female. In terms of age, 54% of participants were 30–39 years old while 38% were 29–30 years old, the second dominant age bracket. The study also indicates the education level of participants because education is the most important element for participants of this study. Of all participants, 69% had a master’s degree while 3% had postgraduate degrees and 2% received a graduate degree. In total, 90% of companies selected for data collection were international, while only 10% percent of the sample were local companies.
ISM methodology provides that the structural self-interaction matrix (SSIM) is developed on the element set and the contextual relation based on a pairwise comparison of variables. These are developed through the opinions of experts and academicians as this is the best way to examine the relationship between variables, which ultimately strengthens the objective(s) of the study. The factors of knowledge management and decentralization, on the entire list, are embedding factors towards organizational success. The background and literature for these factors were explained to the experts, and the experts were asked to consider the adequacy of the concepts. Using Table 4
, the SSIM matrix was designed as follows.
Structural self-interaction matrix (SSIM) matrix.
Structural self-interaction matrix (SSIM) matrix.
|V3|| || ||1||V||V|
|V4|| || || ||1||V|
|V5|| || || || ||1|
Explanations for the applied conditions.
Explanations for the applied conditions.
The next process was to convert the SSIM into a reachability matrix (RM). In this process, the matrix was converted into binary codes (1, 0). V, A, X, and O were replaced by 1 and 0 according to the VAXO rule. The following rules were applied in the process to derive a reachability matrix, as shown in Table 5
Where i and j in SSIM is “V”, then insert the value of i and j as “1” and then j and i as “0” in the reachability matrix.
Where i and j in SSIM is “A”, then insert the value of i and j as “0” and then j and i as “1” in the reachability matrix.
Where i and j in SSIM is “X”, then insert the value of i and j as “1” and then j and i as “1” in the reachability matrix.
Where i and j in SSIM is “O”, then insert the value of i and j as “0” and then j and i as “0” in the reachability matrix.
The next step was to develop a transitivity set and the identification of levels. In this process, intersections and reachability columns were matched; the best matching was identified as level 1 and holds the top level in the hierarchy, and so on. In this case, V5 (sustainable organizational performance) was the first level for the ISM framework. After this process, V5 was removed in the next iteration in both columns, and we could reach the next level until the level of each factor was obtained. Table 6
indicates the level identification for each set.
The structural framework was drawn from the reachability matrix and intersection set. The i to j criteria of the relationship was demonstrated in the ISM framework in Figure 3
. This Figure indicates that the implication of KM and policy change V2 had great significance for sustainable organizational performance, as it occupied the basic level of the ISM hierarchy. Sustainable organizational performance V5 was the influence factor on which emerging management practices depend, as it appeared at the top level of the ISM framework. The complete framework is shown in Figure 3
3.3.2. MICMAC Analysis
“Matriced’ Impacts Croisés Multiplication Appliquée á un Classement” also known as, “cross-impact matrix multiplication applied to classification”, is abbreviated as MICMAC. The basic objective of utilizing MICMAC analysis is underpinned in analyzing the dependence power and drive power of factors. The principle of MICMAC is derived through the multiplication properties of matrices and it is performed to identify the key factors that drive a system in various categories. Based on their drive power and dependence power, the factors were classified into four categories, i.e., autonomous factors, linkage factors, dependent, and independent factors. Hence, the MICMAC analysis was utilized to classify the barriers. For classification, a cross-impact matrix was applied in MICMAC. It has two powers: (1) driving power on the vertical axis and (2) dependent power on X-axis. This analysis was further divided into four main categories: autonomous, linkage, independent or driving, and dependent factors [47
]. Table 7
and Figure 4
depict the MICMAC analysis of the study.
shows that none of the variables falls in the “autonomous” cluster, which indicates a weak driving and ultimately dependent power.
Variable two, “implementation of KM and policy change”, falls in the independent or driving cluster. This indicates that this variable can lead other variables. Furthermore, it also has an indication that organizations need to critically focus on this factor.
In this study, three variables (V1, V3, and V4) lie in cluster three, named the “linking” cluster. It shows that these variables have a strong bonding with other variables, especially with the dependent variable. It can be assumed that it is vital to focus on these variables for sustainable operations of the organization.
Variable five falls in cluster four, named the “dependent’ cluster”. It shows that this variable is influenced by all other variables and is sensitive. Any change in other variables will have a greater impact on this variable.
The research findings indicate that knowledge management, central response control, resilience leadership, and decentralization are diluted in the basic operations of energy organizations especially after the emergence of Covid-19, and such practices are also found in recent studies [15
]. The results of the study indicate that emerging management practices such as resilience leadership and a central response center are the baseline to implement the concepts of knowledge management and decentralization. Similar ideas have also been provided by different researchers in the past: namely, decentralization (John and Chathukulam [30
]) and emerging management [4
] are weak in the energy sector of developing countries. However, in many cases, the companies are aware of the importance of these subjects. Moreover, the analysis of the interviews suggests that top management of organizations are willing to work on emerging management practices, because this concept is fundamental to organizational growth and innovation, but are unable to thoroughly work on them due to certain restraints. The analysis also shows that organizations are unaware of the rewards of these concepts in many cases. The participants of the study demonstrated their readiness to implement these concepts, provided that the institution provides them full support, resources, orientation, and training about emerging management practices, KMS, and decentralization mechanisms.
Emerging management practices are fundamental and are extremely necessary to firms’ effectiveness and efficiency. The notion of knowledge is underpinned in the novel practices of management, and the importance of knowledge is also discussed in the previous literature [8
]. The study reveals that capacity enhancement of an organization is possible through the implementation of knowledge management, which will ultimately lead to strategic actions and organizational competitiveness [23
]. The findings of Santoro, Vrontis [22
] also support the results of the study regarding the implementation of knowledge management: that it makes an organization unique, creative, and different from other organizations The evidence in Figure 3
indicates that the “implication of knowledge management and policy” is a dependent factor and is influenced by management practices. The MICMAC analysis of the study indicates that KM and policy change lie in the independent quadrant of the graph. Hence, these factors deeply influence organizational practices. The KM practices are mutually agreed by all respondents, but its understanding and implementation processes are applied differently: government support, organizational support, financial resources, time, and interest of the owner are the main barriers to the application of these practices. In the development of emerging management practices, KM strategies and policies are supported assertively as key drivers.
In developing countries, the debate about decentralization for empowerment and better decision making is attracting the interest of researchers and practitioners. However, there is a dearth of methods, and these need more attention for the effective handling of organizational affairs. The findings of Çakın [34
] are also aligned with the results of this research. This study also found that top management is curious about the application of the decentralization phenomenon. The tools discovered by Rondinelli, Nellis [49
] are fundamental for efficient deployment resources. The findings of this study are diverse and purely support the decentralization without affecting the control of the owner on the organizational process; they are meant to empower people such that they feel ownership in their organization by ensuring their participation in decision making through the cascading approach of management by objective (MBO). The participants, at large, recommended a down-streaming of power, which enhances this sense of responsibility. However, this study reveals that this practice is more appropriate for medium and large organizations rather than small enterprises. The MICMAC analysis of this study asserts that decentralization is a linking variable that is associated with other variables of the study, such as knowledge management and emerging management practices. The ISM model of the study depicts that decentralization is influenced by KM practices and emerging management practices.
The study is evocative in numerous ways after Covid-19, particularly for renewable energy companies. The duration of the pandemic provided many triggers for transforming management systems to deal with uncertain situations that may evolve in the future, and it is advocated that the application of emerging management practices has the potential to increase organizational management capacity in a turbulent and dynamic environment. Therefore, this study suggests establishing central response mechanisms supervised by resilience leadership who believe in innovative management practices, and applying them according to the contextual formation. The main objective of the study was to explore emerging management practices that can help energy organizations work efficiently during the pandemic and eventually after the pandemic situation. Mainly, the implications are segregated into two parts: (1) theoretical implications and (2) practical implications.
6.1. Theoretical Implications
There is a dearth of literature on emerging management practices and it is evolving over time. The importance of the current and updated literature during the crisis is increasing. The scarcity of literature mainly in the context of developing countries on emerging management practices is noted. Hence, this study is an important part of the literature that will help future researchers and academicians to describe and utilize the concepts for a better understanding of the phenomena. Additionally, the available literature was disjointed and confusing concerning understanding the concept of emerging management practices for renewable energy companies. Hence, this study has systematically gathered the literature and added current and contextual knowledge for a better understanding of the implications of the concept.
6.2. Practical Implications
The findings of the study are very useful for managers and policymakers to devise strategies that are helpful during emergencies and situations like Covid-19. Those strategies include developing a central response unit and flexible leadership policies. The findings of the study also help policymakers use emerging management practices as a foundation that triggers other factors, such as decentralization and knowledge management. Organizations must work on their knowledge management systems to innovate and compete during the pandemic.