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Special Issue "Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Ester Martínez-Ros

Dpto. Economía de la Empresa, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, C/Madrid 126, 20903 Getafe (Madrid), Spain
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +34-91-624-93-50
Fax: +34-91-624-96-07
Interests: economics of innovation; management of innovation; determinants of innovation and types of innovation; environmental innovation
Guest Editor
Dr. Effie Kesidou

Associate Professor in Applied Economics, Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, Maurice Keyworth Building, Leeds, LS2 9JT, England
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +44(0)113-3434514
Interests: economics of innovation; eco-innovations; economic geography; economic development; systems of innovation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Today, most businesses face the major challenge of drawing Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies; namely, strategies that allow businesses to sustain their competitiveness and minimize their environmental impact. This is due to pressures from governments that are making regulations more stringent, and also from changing consumer habits and purchasing decisions towards more environmentally-friendly products and services.

There is growing research on environmentally sustainable strategies; yet, diverse literature approaches the issue from different angles. On the one hand, the literature on environmental innovations (the terms “green innovation” or eco-innovation are used often interchangeably) identifies strategies that focus on new environmental technologies that modify products or processes in a way that reduces pollution. On the other hand, the literature on environmental management systems points out strategies that focus on environmental organizational or managerial processes (such as ISO14001) that allow firms to manage their relationship with the environmental in a systematic way. Yet, these two strands of literature are oftentimes disengaged. We believe that a synthesis and communication between both approaches is crucial for drawing Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies.

This Special Issue will comprise a selection of papers addressing approaches and tools for assessing and improving the SMEs sustainability of business performance. Research papers address the phenomena of corporate success on sustainability that require comprehensive strategies that extend to all aspects of the business (1) the corporate board; (2) employees; (3) suppliers; and (4) consumers. Covered topics should relate to the SMEs business performance, including employment creation, success on business sales, etc. Topics include the definition of the concept of sustainable strategies, the identification of internal factors affecting sustainable business performance, measurement tools for assessing sustainable strategies, principles guiding the design of sustainable strategies, challenges to consider when implementing changes for increasing success of sustainable strategies, consumers' sustainable strategies, information systems for supporting the sustainability strategies, management of suppliers’ sustainable strategies, among others. Papers selected for this Special Issue are subject to a rigorous peer review procedure with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments, and applications

This Special Issue on “Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies” fills an important gap in the literature. We encourage original submissions and we will welcome papers that relate to, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Sustainable competitive strategies of large versus SMEs
  • Technological innovation strategies that improve sustainability
  • Environmental management systems
  • Consumers’ and suppliers’ sustainable strategies
  • Types of environmental innovations to encourage sustainable strategies

Prof. Dr. Ester Martínez-Ros
Dr. Effie Kesidou
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable strategies;
  • internal sustainable factors;
  • design of sustainable strategies;
  • consumers’ sustainable strategies;
  • suppliers’ sustainable strategies;
  • information systems for sustainable businesses;
  • environmental management systems

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Links between Environmental Innovation and Environmental Performance: Evidence for High- and Middle-Income Countries
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2157; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072157
Received: 9 May 2018 / Revised: 14 June 2018 / Accepted: 21 June 2018 / Published: 25 June 2018
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Abstract
Technology innovation plays an increasingly prominent role in addressing global environmental challenges. In particular, environmental technology innovation (environmental innovation) is the most powerful and realistic alternative to achieve environmental sustainability and sustainable development. A better understanding of how environmental innovation affects the environment
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Technology innovation plays an increasingly prominent role in addressing global environmental challenges. In particular, environmental technology innovation (environmental innovation) is the most powerful and realistic alternative to achieve environmental sustainability and sustainable development. A better understanding of how environmental innovation affects the environment and how the effect differs by country is needed. This study analyzes how environmental innovation affects environmental improvement by a dynamic panel model using the System Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) estimation. We use panel data from 33 high-income countries and 36 middle-income countries for the period 1996–2011, to compare their environmental pollution patterns, and determine how environmental innovation affects air pollution reduction as measured by sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The results reveal that environmental innovation improves the environment in some countries over time. The effect is particularly beneficial in high income countries. It is evident that environmental innovations reduce SO2 and CO2 emissions in high-income countries with time interval, while it does not in middle-income countries. The study also identifies that the relationship between per capita income and SO2 and CO2 emissions has a different pattern between high- and middle-income countries. The inverted U-shaped pattern supporting the hypothesis of the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) exists in high-income countries. The examination of the trade effect on pollution emissions provides mixed results; however, trade clearly increases SO2 and CO2 emissions in middle-income countries. This study contributes to empirical literatures on the effect of environmental innovation on environmental improvement. And it has significant implications for understanding the importance of direction and role of environmental innovation for environmental sustainability and sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
Open AccessArticle The Role of SMEs’ Green Business Models in the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy: Differences in Their Design and Degree of Adoption Stemming from Business Size
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 2109; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062109
Received: 22 May 2018 / Revised: 14 June 2018 / Accepted: 16 June 2018 / Published: 20 June 2018
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Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to analyze how SMEs define the components of their business models (value proposition, creation and capture) from the point of view of decarbonization. We analyze SMEs as a group, and study whether their size affects this process
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The purpose of this paper is to analyze how SMEs define the components of their business models (value proposition, creation and capture) from the point of view of decarbonization. We analyze SMEs as a group, and study whether their size affects this process and, in both cases, we examine evolution over time. We use a database comprising 1161 observations of SMEs, 466 in 2014, and 695 in 2016. The results show that SMEs’ value propositions give an intermediate valuation to both legally required and voluntary reduction of environmental impact, irrespective of SME size and the year analyzed. Regarding value creation, SMEs adopt practically no environmental practices, and there are significant differences according to size, with more difficulties than advantages stemming from small size. The study also shows that such environmental practices are not effective in reducing carbon. This diagnosis indicates that SMEs need help from the administration if they are to play a key role in the process of transformation toward a low-carbon economy. Legislative actions involving harsher environmental protection measures might help shape value propositions that place greater importance on reducing environmental impact, whereas training actions on available environmental techniques, promotion of research on how to adapt such techniques to SMEs and the development of specific practices for SMEs might enhance environmental value creation and capture in their BMs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
Open AccessArticle Firm’s Environmental Expenditure, R&D Intensity, and Profitability
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 2071; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062071
Received: 29 May 2018 / Revised: 14 June 2018 / Accepted: 15 June 2018 / Published: 19 June 2018
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Abstract
In order to live up to its environmental responsibility, a firm makes an environmental expenditure to reduce its pollution emissions. Then, an important question is what impact the environmental expenditure has on the firm’s profitability. In this paper, we first propose and test
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In order to live up to its environmental responsibility, a firm makes an environmental expenditure to reduce its pollution emissions. Then, an important question is what impact the environmental expenditure has on the firm’s profitability. In this paper, we first propose and test a hypothesis that the more environmental expenditure the firm makes, the less profitability it enjoys, i.e., there is a negative relationship between the firm’s environmental expenditure and its profitability, more specifically its return on assets (ROA). We go further to suggest and test the second hypothesis that the more R&D-intensive the firm is, the lower the “negative impact” of the environmental expenditure on the firm’s profitability is, i.e., the firm’s R&D intensity moderates the negative relationship between firm’s environmental expenditure and its profitability. A significant implication is that since it has to spend money on reducing its pollution emission, the firm should also enhance its innovation capability. That is, by investing in its R&D, the firm can mitigate the negative impact of environmental expenditure on its profitability. In order to test the hypotheses, we collect financial data and carry out panel regression analyses. The analysis results support our hypotheses that there is a negative relationship between the firm’s environmental expenditure and its profitability and that the negative relationship is moderated by the firm’s R&D capability represented by its R&D intensity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
Open AccessArticle Green Initiatives Adoption and Environmental Performance of Public Listed Companies in Malaysia
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 2003; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062003
Received: 6 March 2018 / Revised: 18 May 2018 / Accepted: 23 May 2018 / Published: 14 June 2018
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Abstract
Environmental issues bring about thoughtful questions on the roles of business organisations in society. Irrespective of whether they are contributing to a better environment or worsening it, organisations have to acknowledge environmental or green issues through impact research and measurement. This article aims
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Environmental issues bring about thoughtful questions on the roles of business organisations in society. Irrespective of whether they are contributing to a better environment or worsening it, organisations have to acknowledge environmental or green issues through impact research and measurement. This article aims to examine the extent of green initiatives adoption and its impact on environmental performance of public listed companies (PLCs) in Malaysia. A questionnaire survey was conducted on PLCs and data from 120 samples were analysed using a statistical tool partial least square-structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). Interviews were also conducted with a few selected companies to obtain in-depth information on green practices and to support the survey findings. The findings reveal that the extent of green initiatives adoption and environmental performance is at moderate level. Green initiatives adoption positively affects the environmental performance of Malaysian PLCs. The present study contributes to the literature of environmental management in the context of green and sustainable development. It also provides some important contributions for management practices by providing empirical evidence to managers that green initiatives should be extensively adopted to enhance environmental performances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
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Open AccessArticle An Information Framework for Facilitating Cost Saving of Environmental Impacts in the Coal Mining Industry in South Africa
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1690; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061690
Received: 11 March 2018 / Revised: 10 April 2018 / Accepted: 16 April 2018 / Published: 23 May 2018
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Abstract
Coal-mining contributes much to the economic welfare of a country. Yet it brings along a number of challenges, notably environmental impacts which include water pollution in a water scarce country such as South Africa. This research is conducted in two phases. The first
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Coal-mining contributes much to the economic welfare of a country. Yet it brings along a number of challenges, notably environmental impacts which include water pollution in a water scarce country such as South Africa. This research is conducted in two phases. The first phase intends to establish environmental and other challenges brought about by the coal-mining industry through a comprehensive analysis of available literature. Combatting these challenges is costly; consequently, our work investigates how established management accounting tools and techniques such as Environmental Management Accounting (EMA), Material Flow Cost Accounting (MFCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) may facilitate cost savings for the companies involved. These techniques promote increased transparency of material usage by tracing and quantifying the flows and inventories of materials within the coal-mining industry in physical and monetary terms, hence hidden costs are elicited. The researchers postulate that an Information Framework integrating these aspects may be the way forward. To this end existing frameworks in the literature are identified. A number of research questions embodying the above aspects are defined and the objective is to define a conceptual framework to facilitate cost savings for coal-mining companies. The main contribution of this work is an information framework presented towards the end of this article. The second phase of the research will involve fieldwork in the form of a survey among stakeholders in industry to validate the conceptual framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
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Open AccessArticle A Newsboy Model with Quick Response under Sustainable Carbon Cap-N-Trade
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1410; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051410
Received: 11 April 2018 / Revised: 24 April 2018 / Accepted: 26 April 2018 / Published: 3 May 2018
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Abstract
In this study, we consider a carbon emission cap-and-trade system in which the policymaker decides the cap for carbon emissions for each company and also has the power to regulate the carbon price in the carbon trading market for the purpose of minimizing
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In this study, we consider a carbon emission cap-and-trade system in which the policymaker decides the cap for carbon emissions for each company and also has the power to regulate the carbon price in the carbon trading market for the purpose of minimizing total carbon emissions. We assume that there are n companies regulated in terms of carbon emissions by the policymaker, each of which emits carbon when producing its own product. After learning the carbon cap and carbon price regulated by the policymaker, each company makes simultaneous pricing and production decisions using the quick response strategy, and can trade some of its carbon emissions in the carbon market at the carbon price set by the policymaker, if the carbon emissions are below the cap. We model this non-cooperative game between the policymaker and companies as a Stackelberg game in which the policymaker is the leader and the companies are the followers. We show that there exists an equilibrium for the policymaker’s carbon pricing decisions and each company’s production and pricing decisions. From this equilibrium, we derive a carbon cap for the company at which the amount of traded carbon emissions is zero. This implies that some company’s production and pricing decisions, even under carbon emission restrictions, will be equal to those without the carbon emission restrictions. Also, we find that companies participating in the carbon cap-and-trade system would reduce their carbon emissions through reduced production, but can have a chance to improve profit through control of the product’s selling price. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
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Open AccessArticle Environmental Regulation, Government R&D Funding and Green Technology Innovation: Evidence from China Provincial Data
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 940; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10040940
Received: 2 March 2018 / Revised: 17 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 23 March 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1011 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The “environmental pollution–economic development” circle is a problem in the process of national sustainable development. As a complex concept of environmental protection and technology innovation, green technology innovation is the key to cracking this strange circle. This paper divides green technology innovation into
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The “environmental pollution–economic development” circle is a problem in the process of national sustainable development. As a complex concept of environmental protection and technology innovation, green technology innovation is the key to cracking this strange circle. This paper divides green technology innovation into green product innovation and green process innovation and measures green technology innovation based on the perspective of energy saving and emission reduction. Furthermore, we examine the effects of environmental regulation and government R&D funding on green technology innovation. The empirical findings are as follows: (1) from the dynamic point of view, we test whether there is a significant ”U-shaped” relationship between environmental regulation and green technological innovation, and we find there exists an “inflection point” in the role of environmental regulation in green technology innovation, and China is at the stage of inhibition before the “inflection point”; (2) direct government funding and tax incentives can promote green technology innovation, but the promotion of government tax incentives to green technology innovation is not significant; (3) the interaction between environmental regulation and government R&D will promote green product innovation and inhibit green process innovation, which is closely related to the imbalance of environmental regulation intensity in energy saving and emission reduction. In addition, this paper also gives out three kinds of control variables (the level of regional development, the proportion of the regional manufacturing industry, and the development level of regional export-oriented economy) and presents their effects on green technology innovation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
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Open AccessArticle Eco-Efficiency Actions and Firm Growth in European SMEs
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 281; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010281
Received: 28 December 2017 / Revised: 15 January 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 22 January 2018
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Abstract
This study investigates the effects of eco-efficiency actions on firm performance in terms of sales growth in an extensive sample of 11,336 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) located in 28 European countries. Our empirical results suggest that not all eco-strategies are positively related
[...] Read more.
This study investigates the effects of eco-efficiency actions on firm performance in terms of sales growth in an extensive sample of 11,336 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) located in 28 European countries. Our empirical results suggest that not all eco-strategies are positively related to better performance, at least not in the short term. We found that European companies using renewable energies, and recycling or designing products that are easier to maintain, repair, or reuse, perform better. Those that aim to reduce water or energy pollution, however, seemed to show a negative correlation to firm growth. Our results also indicate that high investment in eco-strategies improves firm growth, particularly in new members that joined the EU from 2004 onwards. Finally, we observed a U-shaped relationship between eco-strategies and firm growth, which indicates that a greater breadth of eco-strategies is associated with better firm performance. However, few European SMEs are able to either invest heavily or undertake multiple eco-strategies, thus leaving room for policy interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
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Open AccessArticle Prediction of CO2 Emission in China’s Power Generation Industry with Gauss Optimized Cuckoo Search Algorithm and Wavelet Neural Network Based on STIRPAT model with Ridge Regression
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2377; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122377
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 14 December 2017 / Accepted: 18 December 2017 / Published: 20 December 2017
PDF Full-text (1927 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Power generation industry is the key industry of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission in China. Assessing its future CO2 emissions is of great significance to the formulation and implementation of energy saving and emission reduction policies. Based on the Stochastic Impacts
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Power generation industry is the key industry of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission in China. Assessing its future CO2 emissions is of great significance to the formulation and implementation of energy saving and emission reduction policies. Based on the Stochastic Impacts by Regression on Population, Affluence and Technology model (STIRPAT), the influencing factors analysis model of CO2 emission of power generation industry is established. The ridge regression (RR) method is used to estimate the historical data. In addition, a wavelet neural network (WNN) prediction model based on Cuckoo Search algorithm optimized by Gauss (GCS) is put forward to predict the factors in the STIRPAT model. Then, the predicted values are substituted into the regression model, and the CO2 emission estimation values of the power generation industry in China are obtained. It’s concluded that population, per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), standard coal consumption and thermal power specific gravity are the key factors affecting the CO2 emission from the power generation industry. Besides, the GCS-WNN prediction model has higher prediction accuracy, comparing with other models. Moreover, with the development of science and technology in the future, the CO2 emission growth in the power generation industry will gradually slow down according to the prediction results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Organizational Sustainability Practices: A Study of the Firms Listed by the Corporate Sustainability Index
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010226
Received: 27 December 2017 / Revised: 14 January 2018 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 17 January 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (374 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organizational sustainability (OS) has been guiding the decision-making process of managers in order to generate competitive advantage. This paper aims to identify the sustainable practices performed by large corporations in the implementation of OS. Reports with actions performed by large organizations and their
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Organizational sustainability (OS) has been guiding the decision-making process of managers in order to generate competitive advantage. This paper aims to identify the sustainable practices performed by large corporations in the implementation of OS. Reports with actions performed by large organizations and their reach in the three pillars of sustainability—environmental, economic, and social dimensions—are disclosed to their main stakeholders, based on short, medium and long-term sustainable goals. These reports often reflect the progress of OS or the progress made toward them. However, few studies investigate the sustainable practices adopted by firms and their reproducibility. A search was performed in reports selected from the firms listed by the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) from 2012–2016, belonging to the Brazilian stock market in services sector of the economy and employed the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) methodology. The results showed the strategic planning involving infrastructure, environment, human resources, product innovation, organizational management and deadline setting acted as the baseline for the implementation of the practices found. The findings will guide the managers´ decisions in the development of their strategic planning, based on practical and objective results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Competitive Strategies)
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