The development and management of green innovation is becoming increasingly relevant for enterprises, whilst responding to the “green” agenda has emerged as a key challenge and opportunity for enterprises, regardless of their size or the industry they belong to. The reason is threefold: it may confer legitimacy, enhance competitiveness, and highlight ecological responsibility in an environment of both regulatory and consumer sensitisation. Thus, in recent years enterprises are looking beyond their internal processes to improve the environmental profile of their products’ lifecycle, from raw materials acquisition to use by customers. As a result of growing importance in practice, the meaning of the term “green” has been extensively discussed in the management literature. Moreover, a number of other terms have been joined to the word green: including “green innovation” (also known as eco-innovation, environmental innovation, or sustainable innovation). This is often used to identify those innovations that contribute to a sustainable environment through the development of ecological improvements. However, and despite a proliferation of research in this area during the past few years, a general definition of “green innovation” still eludes researchers and policy makers, remaining rather broad and all-embracing concept. Focusing on its effects, Hemmelskamp (1997) defines green innovation as “an innovation that prevents or reduces environmental burdens, deals with clean-up damage, or diagnoses and monitors environmental problems”. A broader definition is that proposed by Beise and Rennings's (2003): i.e. “new or modified processes, techniques, practices, systems and products to avoid or reduce environmental harms. Eco-innovations may be developed with or without the explicit aim of reducing environmental harm. They also may be motivated by the usual business goals such as reducing costs or enhancing product quality”. More recently, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), added to the debate highlighting the two characteristics that distinguish it from innovation: first, “it is an innovation that reects the concept's explicit emphasis on a reduction of environmental impact, whether such an effect is intended or not”, second, “it is not limited to innovation in products, processes and organizational methods, but also includes innovation in social and institutional structures” (OECD, 2009). An analysis of the extant literature on green innovation identifies two main groups of papers, according the perspective adopted in studying this issue: studies that identify factors that drive eco-innovation and the performance outcomes arising from eco-innovation, with Kammerer (2009) and Dangelico and Pujari (2010) being the more recent examples of this category; and studies that identify the dimensions of eco-innovation, with Hermosilla et al. (2010) as one recent article in this category. Based on the premises reported above, it appears evident the need to clarify what are the nature and extent of the green innovation phenomenon. Both theoretical reflection and empirical studies are needed to understand what green innovation exactly is in the daily practice of organisations and how it impacts on, their functioning, and performance. The purpose of the special issue of the European Journal of Innovation Management is to bring together papers which contribute to the understanding of the specific features of green innovation. The six papers included in this issue were selected among 20 submitted works with an overall acceptance rate of about 30 per cent. Each of these 20 papers was blind reviewed by two anonymous reviewers. The authors of papers that, according to the reviewers, merited publication were invited to submit a revised version. The opening paper by Mohammad Yarahmadi and Peter Higgins, “Motivations towards environmental innovation: a conceptual framework for multiparty cooperation”, answers, on the basis of an extensive review of the literature, two main research questions: which are the motives that drive firms to cooperate with other organisations, and, which are the organisations that adopt, develop and implement green innovation. The main results of this review are represented in the form of a conceptual framework explaining how motivations for environmental partnerships link to different types organisations. The resulting framework identifies six types of organisations that a firm cooperates with, namely: government, non-governmental organisations, knowledge leaders, supply chain actors (i.e. suppliers and customers), competitors and industry associations. These collaborations are mainly related to compliance with environmental laws and regulations, legitimacy and the acquisition of knowledge, with exception to collaborations established with competitors and knowledge leaders that, conversely, are driven only by competency-oriented motivations. While the first paper addresses the issue of motivations and organisations involved in the cooperation for green innovations development, second paper, by Justin Doran and Geraldine Ryan, investigates what drives green innovation and how do eco-innovators perform compared to non-eco-innovators. Specifically, the impact of four factors (i.e. regulation, perceptions, external linkages and knowledge generation) on eco-innovation performance, and, in turn, on business performances is examined. This is based on a sample of over 2,000 Irish companies. The study assesses the impact of these key drivers (and in particular of regulation and customer perception) on eco-innovation, and confirms the positive and significant impact of eco-innovation on the performance level of a company, thus providing an empirical analysis of the theory of environmental regulation and firm performance. The purpose of the third paper by Anica Zeyen, Johanna Klewitz and Erik Hansen, “Intermediaries driving eco-innovation in SMEs: a qualitative investigation” is to identify the role that local authorities can play in an SME's pursuit for corporate sustainability with a focus on eco-innovation. The main results from this study are the identification of the main drivers and barriers for eco-innovation, as well as the effects induced through collaboration between SMEs and local authorities, and SMEs and consultancies. The research is conducted among German SMEs, and highlights that the proactive approach by a public intermediary is an essential push factor to trigger eco-innovations in SMEs with low absorptive capacity. Moreover, the study stresses that SMEs may need facilitation (i.e. customised as well as individual held support, networks, etc.) for eco-innovation from different intermediaries. The fourth paper by Stanley Wong, “The influence of green product competitiveness on the success of green product innovation: empirical evidence from the Chinese e-industry”, has the purpose to fill the gap in green innovation theory, with particular reference to the influence of green product and process innovation on the competitive advantage and success of green products. Specifically, a model with four constructs is presented and tested on a sample of over 200 R&D project leaders of electronics firms operating in China. The model shows the positive impact of green product and process innovations on competitive advantage and success derived from green products. Similarly, it shows the mediating role of green product competitive advantage in the link between green product/process innovations and green new product success. These results thus suggest that green innovation is more than a branding support. The fifth paper, by Thomas Cleff and Klaus Rennings, shows that the successful innovator is not necessarily the first. Specifically, the authors present the results of empirical studies that analysed which factors influence the innovation success of market pioneers or followers. This shows that the success of a timing strategy depends on different factors, namely: country-specific lead market potential, market and technology characteristics and national regulatory regimes. The paper also develops an environmental innovation strategy options for firms, leader as well as follower, under various market, technological and regulatory conditions. Finally, the empirical research presented by Maha Mourad, and entitled “Perception of green brand in an emerging innovative market”, addresses the issues of the main factors affecting the green brand preference in an emerging innovative market. Specifically, the author, taking as example of emerging innovative market the telecom industry in Egypt, develops a conceptual framework highlighting four dimensions of the green brand preference (namely, green brand image, green satisfaction, green trust and green awareness), thus confirming on the basis of a survey conducted on over 300 mobile subscribers, that in an emerging market the first step to start using green marketing principles is to enhance the green image, satisfaction and trust as well as educating them on the importance of the green activities. Taken together the six papers collected in this special issue develop theoretical frameworks capable of synthesising the existing body of knowledge in the field of green innovation, and report on empirical studies, case studies, surveys, thus reporting real world examples and success cases. Moreover, drawing a complex picture of the green innovation phenomenon, they advance our understanding of green innovation in two ways: they consolidate our knowledge on the topic by providing rigorous studies in most cases based on large pools of data; and they enrich our knowledge by providing a more articulated picture of the green innovation phenomenon, with particular reference to the motivation and factors that may impact or influence the development of green innovation. The value added by a special issue is only as good as the contributions of the manuscripts it receives, and the quality of the feedback provided by its reviewers. We are very grateful to all the authors, who supported this special issue through their contributions. We are also indebted to the reviewers, who helped us in managing the papers received in a timely manner and provided useful and professional reports about the papers. Finally, we would like to thank the editor-in-chief Professor Christos Kalantaridis who gave us the opportunity of organising the special issue and helped us throughout the editorial process in its successful completion.
Bigliardi, Barbara e Massimo, Bertolini. "Guest editorial From: European Journal of Innovation Management, "Green innovation management: theory and practice"" Working paper, 2012.