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Special Issue "Eco-innovation and Competitiveness"

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 (30 June 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Beatriz Junquera

Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad de Oviedo, Avda. del Cristo s/n, 33071 Oviedo (Asturias), Spain
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +34-985-10-49-72
Fax: +34-985-10-38-07
Interests: environmental management; technology and innovation management; human resource management; entrepreneurship

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will comprise a selection of papers addressing eco-innovations to reduce the use of natural resources and decrease the release of harmful substances across the whole life-cycle approaches, and simultaneously to foster competitiveness, as well as those organisational factors to improve a company’s performance as an eco-innovator. Research papers address those concerns linked to (1) discussion about the concept of eco-innovation; (2) organisational factors that lead a company to become more eco-innovative; (3) how to add value because of eco-innovations; and (4) new functional approaches to improve capabilities towards eco-innovation. Covered topics include the definition of the concept of eco-innovation, the identification of organisational factors fostering eco-innovation, measurement tools for assessing the added value in a company because of eco-innovations, organisational barriers against eco-innovation, human resource policies to improve human capital’s eco-innovative capabilities, the eco-innovative intra-entrepreneur, new manufacturing challenges to become more eco-innovative, eco-innovation linked to manufacturer-client relationships, 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.

Prof. Dr. Beatriz Junquera
Guest Editor

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

  • eco-innovation
  • competitiveness,
  • human resource management
  • intra-entrepreneur
  • manufacturing
  • logistics
  • supplier-client relationships
  • environmental management

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle How to Assess Market Readiness for an Innovative Solution: The Case of Heat Recovery Technologies for SMEs
Sustainability 2016, 8(11), 1152; doi:10.3390/su8111152
Received: 1 July 2016 / Revised: 12 September 2016 / Accepted: 10 October 2016 / Published: 9 November 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (228 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The uptake of solutions that increase energy efficiency is significantly lower for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This is due to several barriers, among which legislation, motivation, finance and other resources play a large role. In this paper, we describe a framework of
[...] Read more.
The uptake of solutions that increase energy efficiency is significantly lower for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This is due to several barriers, among which legislation, motivation, finance and other resources play a large role. In this paper, we describe a framework of market readiness and use it to assess the asymmetry between existing solutions and opportunities in the market. The aim is to identify which steps can be taken in order to introduce more energy optimizations into SMEs, and who should be taking those steps. More specifically, we explore how four Danish SMEs, in different parts of the value chain in the food processing industry, view energy efficiency improvements, focusing on the potential reuse of waste heat, along with what they consider important for taking on such projects. The findings show that while the companies operate very differently, they share common motivations and barriers when it comes to energy efficiency. Based on these findings, this paper argues that the biggest advancements are not to be made within the SMEs, but partly through the legislation that affects the financial benefits of energy improvement solutions, and through the marketing approach that solution suppliers take towards their potential customers when addressing the inherently individual needs of SMEs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eco-innovation and Competitiveness)
Open AccessArticle Environmental Proactivity and Environmental and Economic Performance: Evidence from the Winery Sector
Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 1014; doi:10.3390/su8101014
Received: 29 June 2016 / Revised: 28 September 2016 / Accepted: 8 October 2016 / Published: 13 October 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (684 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Environmental sustainability in the winery sector is receiving increased attention from governments, environmental groups, and consumers. The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between the degree of proactivity of a firm’s environmental strategies and its business performance. The novelty of
[...] Read more.
Environmental sustainability in the winery sector is receiving increased attention from governments, environmental groups, and consumers. The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between the degree of proactivity of a firm’s environmental strategies and its business performance. The novelty of this research work lies in its definition of business performance, which includes business environmental performance in terms of reducing the firm’s environmental impacts and eco-efficiency in the use of resources such as water, energy, and raw materials, in addition to its economic performance. A model is proposed and tested using a sample of 312 Spanish wineries. Data were analysed using partial least squares path modelling (PLS-PM). The fitness and robustness of the structural model proved adequate. The results indicate positive correlation of environmental proactivity with economic and environmental performance. Although environmental proactivity improves business performance, it has a greater impact on reducing environmental impacts and improving eco-efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eco-innovation and Competitiveness)
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Open AccessArticle Factors Promoting Environmental Responsibility in European SMEs: The Effect on Performance
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 898; doi:10.3390/su8090898
Received: 1 June 2016 / Revised: 23 August 2016 / Accepted: 29 August 2016 / Published: 5 September 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (955 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is increasing social and political awareness of the importance of developing environmental responsibility at a corporate level. When focusing on issues of responsibility, large companies are frequently perceived to be more responsible for driving climate change and resource depletion. However, small and
[...] Read more.
There is increasing social and political awareness of the importance of developing environmental responsibility at a corporate level. When focusing on issues of responsibility, large companies are frequently perceived to be more responsible for driving climate change and resource depletion. However, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contribute significantly to the use of resources such as material and energy and produce approximately 64% of the pollution in Europe. Drawing on evidence from “The Eurobarometer 381 Survey on SMEs, Resource Efficiency and Green Markets”, we analyze the environmental responsibility of European SMEs, studying their compliance with environmental legislation and how several factors drive environmental orientation among SMEs. Our sample consists of 3647 SMEs operating in 38 countries. Only around a fifth of the firms go beyond environmental regulations, showing the highest levels of environmental responsibility. We conduct OLS regressions to analyze the factors that affect a positive environmental attitude among European SMEs (internal drivers being more significant than external ones) and then, to observe the positive effect of environmental responsibility and firm’s experience in offering green services/products on performance, although a conjoint effect was not found. Implications for practitioners, academics, and policy-makers are outlined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eco-innovation and Competitiveness)
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Open AccessArticle Drivers for the Adoption of Eco-Innovations in the German Fertilizer Supply Chain
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 682; doi:10.3390/su8080682
Received: 27 May 2016 / Revised: 11 July 2016 / Accepted: 11 July 2016 / Published: 28 July 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (524 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Use of fertilizers has enabled a massive increase in crop production yields. However, this has come with severe negative externalities (e.g., greenhouse gas emission; eutrophication of non-agricultural ecosystems). Eco-innovations are one option to reduce the environmental impact of fertilizers without compromising fertilizer productivity.
[...] Read more.
Use of fertilizers has enabled a massive increase in crop production yields. However, this has come with severe negative externalities (e.g., greenhouse gas emission; eutrophication of non-agricultural ecosystems). Eco-innovations are one option to reduce the environmental impact of fertilizers without compromising fertilizer productivity. Although numerous eco-innovations in the domain of fertilizers are available, they have not yet seen a sufficient adoption rate. In this paper we explore main drivers for adoption of eco-innovations in the German fertilizer supply chain based on empirical investigations at three levels of the fertilizer supply chain: producers, traders, and farmers. We strive to take a “chain perspective” on environmental concerns and knowledge of fertilizer specific eco-innovations. The study was carried out in two steps: initially we conducted exploratory expert interviews with eight actors of the fertilizer supply chain. The statements generated thereby fed into a questionnaire answered by 57 participants stemming from fertilizer production (n = 12), traders (n = 34) and farmers (n = 11) level. Findings suggest that drivers for eco-innovations are perceived differently by the various actors in the fertilizer supply chain. Overall knowledge on eco-innovations decreases downstream the chain. By taking a chain perspective on the adoption of eco-innovation, our paper contributes to the emerging body of literature on drivers for eco-innovation, and also maps out managerial implications of fostering the implementation of eco-innovations in the fertilizer supply chain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eco-innovation and Competitiveness)
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Open AccessArticle Too Much Is as Bad as Too Little? Sources of the Intention-Achievement Gap in Sustainable Innovation
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 712; doi:10.3390/su8080712
Received: 10 June 2016 / Revised: 18 July 2016 / Accepted: 21 July 2016 / Published: 25 July 2016
PDF Full-text (224 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Prior work on innovation has generally emphasized the importance of an organization’s exposure to external knowledge. This study, in contrast, redirects our attention toward conditions under which such exposure serves as constraints on organizational endeavors to achieve environmentally preferable innovation. We develop a
[...] Read more.
Prior work on innovation has generally emphasized the importance of an organization’s exposure to external knowledge. This study, in contrast, redirects our attention toward conditions under which such exposure serves as constraints on organizational endeavors to achieve environmentally preferable innovation. We develop a two-stage model for sustainable innovation. A firm in the first stage explores a variety of alternatives and develops strategic intentions to address broader environmental concerns; thus, it may benefit from access to both diverse sources of external knowledge and network ties that enable an extensive search for new information. In the second stage, a firm exploits limited available options to achieve its strategic intentions. We suggest that dependence on external knowledge in the first stage makes the transition toward the second stage challenging, thereby reducing the probability that a firm’s strategic intentions for sustainability result in actual innovation outcomes. We test our theory using the 2014 Korean Innovation Survey. Our results show that diverse sources of external knowledge through rich network ties, albeit the positive main effects on innovation outcomes, negatively moderate the relationship between a firm’s intentions for environmental sustainability and its achievement of sustainable innovation. Several theoretical and practical implications are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eco-innovation and Competitiveness)
Open AccessArticle Sustainable Design Operations in the Supply Chain: Non-Profit Manufacturer vs. For-Profit Manufacturer
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 639; doi:10.3390/su8070639
Received: 31 May 2016 / Accepted: 4 July 2016 / Published: 6 July 2016
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (298 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainable design aims to reduce the negative impacts either on people (e.g., create healthy) or on planet (e.g., minimize waste). In other words, sustainable design is the philosophy thattendstoimprovedesignperformancebyincorporatinghealthandsafetyattributes(forpeople), and environmental attributes (for planet) into products. In this paper, we develop an analytical
[...] Read more.
Sustainable design aims to reduce the negative impacts either on people (e.g., create healthy) or on planet (e.g., minimize waste). In other words, sustainable design is the philosophy thattendstoimprovedesignperformancebyincorporatinghealthandsafetyattributes(forpeople), and environmental attributes (for planet) into products. In this paper, we develop an analytical model to examine the sustainable design operations in a supply chain which consists of one retailer and one manufacturer. The manufacturer designs the products by investigating sustainable design efforts, such that the products can better coordinate human needs. Motivated by the real industry practice, we consider two business modes for the manufacturer: a nonprofit organization (i.e., a demand quantity seeker) or a commercial firm (i.e., a profit seeker). We obtain the optimal operational decisions in both the decentralized case and the centralized case, and we also compare the results. Managerial insights are derived, and the efficiency of the sustainable design is also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eco-innovation and Competitiveness)
Open AccessArticle Closed-Loop Supply Chain Planning Model for a Photovoltaic System Manufacturer with Internal and External Recycling
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 596; doi:10.3390/su8070596
Received: 13 May 2016 / Revised: 11 June 2016 / Accepted: 21 June 2016 / Published: 24 June 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2531 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The photovoltaic (PV) generation system has been widely used since the late 1990s. Considering its lifespan of 20 to 30 years, many end-of-life systems will emerge in the near future. This is why recycling PV systems will be beneficial (and may even be
[...] Read more.
The photovoltaic (PV) generation system has been widely used since the late 1990s. Considering its lifespan of 20 to 30 years, many end-of-life systems will emerge in the near future. This is why recycling PV systems will be beneficial (and may even be detrimental) to both the environment and the economy. Through the recycling process, hazardous by-product substances such as cadmium and lead can be treated properly. Moreover, valuable materials including indium, gallium, and tellurium can be extracted and reused for manufacturing purposes. Even though many studies have dealt with issues related to the PV system and its recycling policy, they lack significant factors regarding the recycling policy. This study analyzes and compares three real cases of manufacturer’s recycling policy, including Deutsche Solar, First Solar, and PV Cycle, from the perspective of a closed-loop supply chain. Two mathematical models are developed to help PV system manufacturers establish supply chain planning and choose suitable recycling policies in consideration of different circumstances. Furthermore, an experimental example of these models will be used to validate and conclude the significance of the models. The results from this study will show that recycling CdTe PV systems is much more efficient than recycling c-Si PV systems and that, in the case of c-Si, it is better to outsource recycling end-of-life systems and dispose of all manufacturing scrap. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eco-innovation and Competitiveness)
Open AccessArticle Persuasive Design for Products Leading to Health and Sustainability Using Case-Based Reasoning
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 318; doi:10.3390/su8040318
Received: 13 February 2016 / Revised: 20 March 2016 / Accepted: 28 March 2016 / Published: 30 March 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (335 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study proposes a novel method for facilitating product design that persuades users to have more bodily movements for both health and energy harvesting by using concepts of case-based reasoning. A domain knowledge model for case-based reasoning is proposed to explain how design
[...] Read more.
This study proposes a novel method for facilitating product design that persuades users to have more bodily movements for both health and energy harvesting by using concepts of case-based reasoning. A domain knowledge model for case-based reasoning is proposed to explain how design and technology can help persuade users to perform target behavior. There are five groups of attributes in the model including target behavior, design principles, design techniques, applicable technology, and users’ motives and ability. With the model, knowledge from more than 98 cases are extracted to form a case library. To find better persuasive means for different user groups, significant users’ motives and ability are identified for different target users by using regression models which result from a questionnaire survey of local potential users. A case-based method with a six-step procedure is proposed to find some useful suggestions from retrieved cases by specifying target users and target behaviors. An illustrative example is presented to demonstrate the application potential of the proposed method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eco-innovation and Competitiveness)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Determinants of Green ICT Adoption in Organizations: A Theoretical Perspective
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 731; doi:10.3390/su8080731
Received: 31 May 2016 / Revised: 14 July 2016 / Accepted: 18 July 2016 / Published: 29 July 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (625 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are present in almost all fields of human activity. The expansion of their use should be balanced by the results of the studies on the negative effects on the environment. The relationship between these technologies and the environment
[...] Read more.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are present in almost all fields of human activity. The expansion of their use should be balanced by the results of the studies on the negative effects on the environment. The relationship between these technologies and the environment is relatively new. The application of environmental criteria is commonly referred to as green ICT or green computing. Awareness of the importance of the ecosystem has led to increased interest in its protection both in production and in consumption. Green ICT should be a major concern not only for the hardware and software producers but also for the users. They could stimulate the demand for less harmful products for the environment with an essential role in the after-sales stages. Companies can contribute to this process by resource efficiency, dematerialization, and minimizing e-waste, increasing recycling, and producing fewer CO2 emissions. The decision to adopt green ICT depends on the expected benefits and investments. This decision depends on costs, competitiveness, financial support, managers and employees’ characteristics and skills, legal regulations, supply, and demand. The contributions of the paper cover identifying, analysing and classifying general and specific determinants of green ICT adoption in organizations based on the literature in this field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eco-innovation and Competitiveness)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Eco-Innovation and Climate Change: A Step for the Circular Economy
Author: Gemma Durán-Romero
Affiliation: University Autónoma of Madrid
Abstract: The aim of this article is to establish the links between circular economy and eco-innovation, especially in climate change. Actually, two main issues arise as main objective at an international level. Firstly, to tackle climate change, keeping global warming below a critical threshold and secondly, to implement a circular economy by using and re-using, rather than using up [1]. The three strategies of a circular economy are renewable energy; energy efficiency and material efficiency which imply eco-innovations. Several studies set up that this connection would yield multiple benefits not also by climate but also for the economy. The article will seek to uncover the theoretical underpinnings and new rationales associated with these two policies.
[1] The Club of Rome, the European Commission (The EU legislative proposal, The Circular Economy Package, presented in July 2014.

Title: Drivers for the Adoption of Eco-Innovations in the German Fertiliser Supply Chain
Authors: K. Hasler 1, H. W. Olfs 1, S. W. F. Omta 2 and S. Bröring 3
Affiliations: 1 University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück, Am Krümpel 31, 49090 Osnabrück, Germany; 2 Chair of the Management Studies Group, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands; 3 Chair for Technology and Innovation Management in Agribusiness, University of Bonn, Meckenheimer Alle 174, 53115 Bonn, Germany
Abstract: Fertilizers enable a massive increase in crop production yields; however, they also come along with negative externalities, i.e., greenhouse gas emission. Therefore, eco-innovations seem necessary to reduce the environmental impact of fertilizers without compromising on fertilizer productivity. Although numerous eco-innovations in the domain of fertilizers are available, they have not yet seen a sufficient adoption rate. In this paper we explore the main drivers for adoption of eco-innovations in the German fertiliser supply chain by empirically investigating these on three levels of the fertilizer supply chain: producers, traders and farmers. Thus, in this paper, we strive to take a “chain perspective” on environmental concerns and knowledge of fertiliser specific eco-innovations. The study has been carried out in two steps: initially we conducted exploratory expert interview with n = 8 actors of the fertilizer supply chain. The statements generated thereby fed into a questionnaire answered by n = 57 participants stemming from fertilizer production (n = 12), traders (n = 34) and farmers (n = 11) level. Findings suggest that drivers for eco-innovations are perceived differently by the various actors in the fertiliser supply chain, while knowledge on eco-innovations decreases downstream the chain. By taking a chain perspective on the adoption of eco-innovation our paper seeks to contribute to the emerging body of literature on drivers for eco-innovation, and also maps out managerial implications to foster the implementation of eco-innovations in the fertiliser supply chain.

Title: Environmental Proactivity and Environmental and Economic Performance: Evidences from the Winery Sector
Authors: Virginia Barba-Sánchez 1,* and Carlos Atienza-Sahuquillo 2
Affiliations: 1 Department of Business Science, University of Castillla-La Mancha, ESII, Paseo de los Estudiantes, s/n; 02006-Albacete, Spain; virginia.barba@uclm.es; 2 Department of Business Science, University of Castillla-La Mancha, EII, Paseo de los Estudiantes, s/n; 02006-Albacete, Spain; carlos.atienza@uclm.es; * Correspondence: virginia.barba@uclm.es; Tel.: +34-967-599-200 (ext. 8254)
Abstract: Environmental sustainability in the winery sector is receiving increased attention from governments, environmental groups and consumers. The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between the degree of proactivity of a firm’s environmental strategies and its business performance. The novelty of this research work lies in its definition of business performance, which includes business environmental performance in terms of reducing the company’s environmental impacts and eco-efficiency in the use of resources such as water, energy and raw materials, in addition to its economic performance. A model is proposed and tested using a sample of 312 Spanish wineries. Data were analysed using partial least squares path modelling (PLS-PM). The fitness and robustness of the structural model can be considered adequate. The results indicate positive correlation of environmental proactivity with economic and environmental performance. Although environmental proactivity enables an improvement in business performance, its influence is greater on reducing environmental impacts and improving eco-efficiency.

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