Date: Thursday, April 12, 2018
Hour: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Room: HEC Montréal – Trudeau Corporation (1st floor, green section)
How do the material aspects of intermediary work affect regulators, targets, and beneficiaries? To shed light on this question we studied an information intermediary in the form of a website and the organizations who founded it. Specifically, we analyzed FracFocus, a self-regulatory initiative with strong industry ties, charged with disclosing data pertaining to the chemicals used in oil and gas wells completed using hydraulic fracturing technology in the United States and Canada. We found that between 2010 and mid 2017 in states and provinces where fracking actively occurred the vast majority of legislation was updated to mandate or encourage disclosure via FracFocus, meaning that it had a considerable effect on the trajectory of official regulation on fracking disclosure. We also found that FracFocus disclosed important data but did so in a manner that limited accessibility and reduced the comprehensibility of environmental and public health risks to beneficiaries. The public’s experience of such a device is that of opaque transparency and a blur between official and non-official regulation. We traced these outcomes to the material affordances created by FracFocus.
Associate Professor, Strategy and Organization
Director, Centre for Strategy Studies in Organizations
Associate Member, McGill School of Environment