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Open AccessConcept Paper
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 946; doi:10.3390/su8090946

The More, the Merrier: Why and How Employee-Driven Eco-Innovation Enhances Environmental and Competitive Advantage

Faculty of Economics, Alanus University, Villestrasse 3, 53347 Alfter (Bonn), Germany
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Academic Editor: Pallav Purohit
Received: 30 June 2016 / Revised: 4 September 2016 / Accepted: 12 September 2016 / Published: 16 September 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [241 KB, uploaded 16 September 2016]

Abstract

Innovative solutions are often conjured as a key factor for companies to come closer to the goal of ecological sustainability. Furthermore, proactive eco-innovation activities can encompass competitive advantages. Companies are therefore well advised to tap any available source of innovation. However, although employees’ innovative capacity has often been described, to date, their manifold potentials for eco-innovation processes have hardly been examined in detail. The overarching research questions guiding this conceptual paper are why and how employee participation in eco-innovation processes can entail environmental and competitive advantages for companies. The authors introduce the concept of employee-driven eco-innovation (EDEI), defined here as ordinary employees’ voluntary engagement in innovation activities within an organizational context that, intentionally or not, lead to environmental improvements. This paper complements previous literature on employee-driven innovation (EDI) by applying it to the specific case of eco-innovation. In this context, employees’ comprehensive environmental competences resulting from “tacit knowledge”, “private consumer experience” and “green identity” are taken into account. In addition, we delineate critical intra-organizational factors for EDEI activities and illustrate green employees’ specific requirements in this regard. View Full-Text
Keywords: employee-driven innovation (EDI); eco-innovation; employee participation; employee environmental initiatives; green employees; environmental performance; competitive advantage; intra-organizational factors; green human resource management (GHRM) employee-driven innovation (EDI); eco-innovation; employee participation; employee environmental initiatives; green employees; environmental performance; competitive advantage; intra-organizational factors; green human resource management (GHRM)
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Buhl, A.; Blazejewski, S.; Dittmer, F. The More, the Merrier: Why and How Employee-Driven Eco-Innovation Enhances Environmental and Competitive Advantage. Sustainability 2016, 8, 946.

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