What’s driving eco-innovations?

There is an interesting article in press (Hojnik & Ruzzie, 2015) about the drivers of eco-innovations also known as environmental innovations and green innovations. Eco-innovations are improvements in product, process, marketing and/or organization with the aim of having fewer adverse effects on the environment and more efficient use of resources.

The upcoming article (Hojnik & Ruzzie, 2015) is based on 155 studies on drivers of eco-innovations. The key findings are that:

  • Regulations and market pull factors are the main drivers of eco-innovations, above factors like cost savings, Research & Development (R&D), Environmental Management Systems (EMS), competition, managerial environmental concern, stakeholder pressure etc.
  • Regulations however are still the dominating driving force and prevail over economic incentive instruments. This is due to the definition of eco-innovations, whereby companies that invest in eco-innovation bear higher costs than their polluting competitors while society in general benefits from these innovations in terms of a better environmental climate.
  • There is a positive correlation between eco-innovations and company size. This means that largers companies are more likely to invest in eco-innovations than smaller companies. This is not only because larger companies have more financial resources or other resources but also because of the higher visibility and environmental impact.

Looking at the findings of the eco-innovation studies, I think eco-innovations should be viewed in a wider innovation context as well. Eco-innovations are not an end in itself, unless of course there are regulating issues. Innovations in general are persued by companies to create new products and processes which add value to their triple bottom line (people, planet and profit) and eco-innovations are part of that.


Norbert Bol


Hojnik, J., & Ruzzier, M. (2015). What drives eco-innovation? A review of an emerging literature. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. In Press.

Photo credit: Iahan 13:20 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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