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Special Issue "Product Innovation and Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Antonello Cammarano

Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 132 – 84084 Fisciano, Salerno, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: innovation; technological strategies; knowledge management; new product development; start-ups; open innovation; patent data
Guest Editor
Prof. Francesca Michelino

Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 132 – 84084 Fisciano, Salerno, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: innovation management; technology management; open innovation; technological strategies; patent data; supply chain management
Guest Editor
Prof. Mauro Caputo

Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 132 – 84084 Fisciano, Salerno, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: innovation management; supply chain management; operations management; open innovation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to collect theoretical and empirical studies that contribute to developing a better understanding of the relationship between product innovation and business sustainability.

Indeed, product innovation can be theoretically achieved within a continuum of practices, ranging from the exclusive involvement of internal resources to the engagement of only external ones. Adoptable practices are collocated within these extremes, and we want to try to answer the challenge of analyzing their different degree of sustainability in terms of innovative outcome. A sustainable model employs a balanced set of knowledge and technological resources both internal and external. 

Hence, the aim of the call is to understand how firms access external resources in terms of:

  • Human resources;
  • Intellectual property;
  • Subsystems, parts and components;
  • Companies and business units.

Indeed, all such resources are involved to achieve sustainable innovation. For instance, job market allows firms to hire skilled people and incorporate their knowledge, competencies and know-how. Intellectual property can be exchanged in markets for technologies, e.g. to acquire a patent or buy a license, and accelerate the process of acquisition of technologies and knowledge that supports the R&D effort necessary to achieve product innovation, hence improving the economic and business sustainability of innovation activities. Additionally, by acquiring subsystems, parts and components, firms incorporate technologies and innovations deriving from R&D efforts of their suppliers and partners into their products, with expected improving innovation performance and positive effects on firm’s competitive advantage. Further, by investing on business combinations and mergers and acquisitions, companies will combine, reinforce and optimize their knowledge and technological resources, improving sustainability.

Therefore, researchers are encouraged to submit papers that contribute to the literature by proposing new theories and practical issues related to sustainable product innovation. In particular, the Special Issue focuses on economic and business implications of sustainable product development. Some example topics are, among others:

  • Modes of acquisition or sharing of resources and their integration within the product development after a sustainable perspective;
  • Cases of success or failure of product innovation activities aiming at enhancing economic sustainability;
  • Sustainability and product innovation in R&D intense industries;
  • Product development modularization and economic sustainability;
  • Sustainable development practices in different stages of technology/product life cycle;
  • Cooperation and collaboration for sustainable product development;
  • Role of partners and suppliers in sustainable supply chain;
  • Relying on job market to enhance organizational sustainability;
  • Reorganizing knowledge and technological resources after mergers and acquisitions to achieve sustainable and superior product innovation;
  • Organizational sustainability of innovation processes.

Dr. Antonello Cammarano
Prof. Francesca Michelino
Prof. Mauro Caputo
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 semimonthly 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 1700 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

  • Product innovation
  • Sustainability
  • Business sustainability
  • Innovation sustainability
  • Organizational sustainability
  • Sustainable development
  • Knowledge resources
  • Technological resources
  • Innovation practices
  • Open innovation
  • External resources
  • New product development

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Features of R&D Teams and Innovation Performances of Sustainable Firms: Evidence from the “Sustainability Pioneers” in the IT Hardware Industry
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4524; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174524
Received: 28 June 2019 / Revised: 13 August 2019 / Accepted: 18 August 2019 / Published: 21 August 2019
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Abstract
The aim of this work is to characterize the R&D teams of sustainable companies and analyze how they perform in terms of patent quality. The study is based on 13,355 patents filed by leading companies in the IT hardware industry. Team of inventors [...] Read more.
The aim of this work is to characterize the R&D teams of sustainable companies and analyze how they perform in terms of patent quality. The study is based on 13,355 patents filed by leading companies in the IT hardware industry. Team of inventors are characterized in terms of size, mobility, experience and openness. Sustainability is measured in terms of its environmental dimension. Patent quality is defined using ex ante and post hoc indicators. Innovation and financial performances, together with some contextual features, are also considered. One-way ANOVA is performed using “sustainability” as a discriminating factor to analyze whether significant differences are found between sustainable and not sustainable companies. Correlations between team features and patent quality are calculated. Results show that the R&D teams of sustainable companies feature a higher degree of mobility but less experience than those of non-sustainable firms; moreover, a less receptive attitude toward open innovation is observed. Even if, on average, sustainable companies develop less patents, the quality is higher regarding most attributes: scope, architectural capability, scientific and technological value; moreover, superior financial performances are achieved. The features that have a more significant impact on patent quality are the size of the R&D team and the presence of inventors who have published on Scopus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Product Innovation and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
The Linkage between Sustainability and Innovation Performance in IT Hardware Sector
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4275; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164275
Received: 14 July 2019 / Revised: 2 August 2019 / Accepted: 4 August 2019 / Published: 7 August 2019
PDF Full-text (609 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This work investigates the relationship between sustainability and innovation performance. Despite the relevance of the issue, few contributions deepen such a relationship after both a conceptual and a quantitative perspective. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to suggest a measure of sustainability [...] Read more.
This work investigates the relationship between sustainability and innovation performance. Despite the relevance of the issue, few contributions deepen such a relationship after both a conceptual and a quantitative perspective. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to suggest a measure of sustainability for innovation processes and to define which innovation strategies can lead to more sustainable processes. The role of ambidexterity within the corporate sustainability framework is underlined: Ambidextrous organizations are able to improve the innovation performance and better use their resources, improving the sustainability of research and development (R&D) processes. By employing patent data and testing the framework on a sample of worldwide top R&D spending companies in the IT hardware industry, this work suggests which optimal value of ambidexterity will lead to more sustainable innovation. In addition, R&D processes with non-optimal levels of ambidexterity can be managed in a better way. Indeed, results show the usefulness of open innovation adoption to improve the performance of exploration processes. Moreover, R&D activities based on a preponderance of exploitation strategies are more sustainable if they fall into technological domains in which the focal company is highly specialized. The work also contributes to the conceptualization of sustainability and to definition of patent-based metrics related to sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Product Innovation and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Energy Evaluation of Deep-Lane Autonomous Vehicle Storage and Retrieval System
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3817; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143817
Received: 10 June 2019 / Revised: 3 July 2019 / Accepted: 10 July 2019 / Published: 12 July 2019
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Abstract
With the rise of a consciousness in warehousing sustainability, an increasing number of autonomous vehicle storage and retrieval systems (AVS/RS) is diffusing among automated warehouses. Moreover, manufacturers are offering the option of equipping machines with energy recovery systems. This study analyzed a deep-lane [...] Read more.
With the rise of a consciousness in warehousing sustainability, an increasing number of autonomous vehicle storage and retrieval systems (AVS/RS) is diffusing among automated warehouses. Moreover, manufacturers are offering the option of equipping machines with energy recovery systems. This study analyzed a deep-lane AVS/RS provided with an energy recovery system in order to make an energy evaluation for such a system. A simulator able to emulate the operation of the warehouse has been developed, including a travel-time and an energy model to consider the real operating characteristics of lifts, shuttles and satellites. Referring to a single command cycle with a basic storing and picking algorithm for multiple-depth channels, energy balance and recovery measurements have been presented and compared to those of a traditional crane-based system. Results show significant savings in energy consumption with the use of a deep-lane AVS/RS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Product Innovation and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Monetary and Social Rewards for Crowdsourcing
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2834; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102834
Received: 1 May 2019 / Revised: 9 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 17 May 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (325 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Crowdsourcing of inventive activities is a particular form of crowdsourcing that helps firms to innovate by involving dispersed individuals to exploit “crowd wisdom”. In this context, the greater the number of contributions, the greater the possibility to gather extremely valuable ideas to produce [...] Read more.
Crowdsourcing of inventive activities is a particular form of crowdsourcing that helps firms to innovate by involving dispersed individuals to exploit “crowd wisdom”. In this context, the greater the number of contributions, the greater the possibility to gather extremely valuable ideas to produce innovative products and services. While monetary and social rewards can be an effective means to boost contributors’ extrinsic and intrinsic motivations to contribute, a theoretical understanding and empirical evidence of their effects are lacking. This paper focused on the crowdsourcing of inventive activities, initiated by listed companies worldwide, from 2007 to 2014. Our findings shed light on the influence of monetary and social rewards on the number of ideas collected. In particular, we analyzed the impact on the number of contributions brought about by monetary rewards and noted a positive influence related to its presence and also a negative effect related to the amount of the compensation. Moreover, we have demonstrated how the presence of a social cause is beneficial to the number of contributions. Consequently, we contribute to a scholarly understanding of the crowdsourcing phenomenon and we have provided guidance to managers seeking to initiate crowdsourcing campaigns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Product Innovation and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
A Discovery of Multiple Levels of Open Innovation in Understanding the Economic Sustainability. A Case Study in the Manufacturing Industry
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4652; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124652
Received: 6 September 2018 / Revised: 1 December 2018 / Accepted: 5 December 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1237 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of this paper is twofold: firstly, investigate the theory of governance and open innovation by adding the process of value creation and value capture; secondly, to discuss the potential link between open innovation and economic sustainability. With the current emphasis of [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is twofold: firstly, investigate the theory of governance and open innovation by adding the process of value creation and value capture; secondly, to discuss the potential link between open innovation and economic sustainability. With the current emphasis of the literature being on either the value creation or value capture processes, the phenomenon of open innovation is only partially understood. To help broaden this understanding, we conducted an in-depth case study of the processes behind the transformation of governance structures at Iran Khodro Company (IKCO), which led to the emergence of both value creation and capture processes. A multi project analysis (from 1994 to 2012) has point out that IKCO have created and developed a formal value creation and capture processes from the part level through to the architectural level, allowing a gradual openness at those levels and at the same time ensuring a greater economic sustainability of the IKCO business. These findings reveal the existence of four unique levels of open innovation in product development architecture. Practical implications are also provided relating the impact that each of these levels can have on the economic sustainable model of the firms in the manufacturing sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Product Innovation and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Decisions on Product Upgrade Confrontations with Remanufacturing Operations
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4090; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114090
Received: 5 October 2018 / Revised: 31 October 2018 / Accepted: 5 November 2018 / Published: 7 November 2018
PDF Full-text (1192 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In recent decades, remanufacturing is perceived to be an environmentally friendly option due to the reduced consumption of materials, energy etc. It should be noted that whether the remanufacturing operations are undertaken by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or outsourced to the remanufacturers, [...] Read more.
In recent decades, remanufacturing is perceived to be an environmentally friendly option due to the reduced consumption of materials, energy etc. It should be noted that whether the remanufacturing operations are undertaken by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or outsourced to the remanufacturers, given the size and the growth of remanufactured products, many OEMs intend to fend off the potential cannibalization of new products sales through differentiating their quality levels from those of remanufactured ones by launching upgraded versions. To understand whether and how the product upgrading strategy impacts on optimal outcomes in the context of the remanufacturing operations undertaken by OEMs or third-party remanufacturers (TPRs), in this paper, we develop two models that highlight the OEM’s product upgrading strategy under the scenarios where (1) the OEM owns its remanufacturing operations in-house (Model O) or (2) remanufacturing operations are undertaken by a TPR (Model T). Among other results, we find that, from an economic performance perspective, it is more beneficial for the OEM to perform remanufacturing operations in-house; however, from an environmental sustainability perspective, such behavior is not always good for our environment. In particular, when the level of product upgrading is pronounced, the remanufacturing operations undertaken by the OEM are always detrimental to our environment, due to indulging in remanufacturing, as seen in Model O. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Product Innovation and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Innovation Resilience: A New Approach for Managing Uncertainties Concerned with Sustainable Innovation
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3641; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103641
Received: 12 August 2018 / Revised: 6 October 2018 / Accepted: 8 October 2018 / Published: 11 October 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (277 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainable innovation is more complex than conventional, market-driven innovation, because companies have to consider a wide range of uncertainties concerned with the environment, society, and economics. This literature review shows that resilience is the prevailing way of thinking in the area of sustainability [...] Read more.
Sustainable innovation is more complex than conventional, market-driven innovation, because companies have to consider a wide range of uncertainties concerned with the environment, society, and economics. This literature review shows that resilience is the prevailing way of thinking in the area of sustainability studies, and the main contribution of resilience to sustainability is how to deal with uncertainties. However, there seems to be a scarcity in the current literature on the conceptualization of resilience in the context of innovation. From the duality view, this paper proposes a new concept of innovation resilience based on two dimensions, stability and adaptability, which contribute to maintaining a high level of innovation efficiency, while at the same time adapting to change. The proposed innovation resilience concept attempts to provide an integration of divergent research streams—innovation management, organizational resilience, and sustainability management theory. We develop a conceptual framework that consists of a set of indicators involving the two dimensions by using multiple case studies, upon which future empirical studies can be based. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Product Innovation and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Innovative Technology Exploration on Firm Value Sustainability: The Case of Part Supplier Management
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3632; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103632
Received: 23 August 2018 / Revised: 4 October 2018 / Accepted: 7 October 2018 / Published: 11 October 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (870 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
With rapid changes driven by technical advances, innovative technology capacity is a strategic asset unique to a company allocating various tangible and intangible resources, and it promotes technological innovation. This study analyzed the technology applied to iPhone series by Apple from 2007 to [...] Read more.
With rapid changes driven by technical advances, innovative technology capacity is a strategic asset unique to a company allocating various tangible and intangible resources, and it promotes technological innovation. This study analyzed the technology applied to iPhone series by Apple from 2007 to 2017 and measured the information effect of innovative technology exploration on the firm value for managing global supply chain (USA, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Europe). Adopting the pooled OLS (Ordinary least square) and panel analysis, this study revealed that exploration technology exploring new technologies shows a positive market response in the information effect of sustaining innovation. Results identified that exploitation and exploration can give different results depending on a construct (exploration and exploitation technologies) or congruence (combination and balance). In addition, the results indicate the importance of the balance between exploitation and exploration technologies and rational part supplies management in Apple’s new product development strategy. Analyzing the impact of innovative technology exploration on the firm value for global supply chain management, this study suggests significant implications for strategic decision making for the company to build continuous innovation path through technology search and to secure sustainability of organizations facing rapid changes in technical advances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Product Innovation and Sustainability)
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