Sustainable innovation: innovation driving sustainability

Companies have a responsibility for the environment and society, but on the other hand companies cannot resolve all the environmental and social problems in the world. Successful companies however view sustainability as one of the biggest trends that will shape the future and use sustainability as an innovation tool. Companies can use sustainability in their process innovation, product or service innovation, market innovation, brand innovation, company innovation and strategic innovation.

In order to innovate, companies must find new possibilities and learn how to apply these possibilities. Sometimes this learning is by trial and error (experiential learning), by learning from external sources (vicarious learning) or by a combination of the former types of learning (inferential learning).

Based on three recent scientific articles it looks like companies innovate more to resolve environmental and social problems when there are more external pressures and they can learn more form other companies (external sources).

Norbert Bol


Bekmezci, M. (2015). Companies’ Profitable Way of Fulfilling Duties towards Humanity and Environment by Sustainable InnovationProcedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences181, 228-240.

Chandler, D., & Hwang, H. (2015). Learning From Learning Theory A Model of Organizational Adoption Strategies at the Microfoundations of Institutional TheoryJournal of Management, 1446-1476.

Herrera, M. E. B. (2015). Creating competitive advantage by institutionalizing corporate social innovation. Journal of Business Research68(7), 1468-1474.

Photo credit: mattwalker69 / Foter / CC BY-SA

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