Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 671–705 | Cite as

SMEs and barriers to Eco-innovation in the EU: exploring different firm profiles

  • Giovanni Marin
  • Alberto Marzucchi
  • Roberto Zoboli
Regular Article


Eco-innovation is an explicit aim of major EU policy strategies. Many environmental policies de facto require firms to eco-innovate to comply with policy requirements, while the overlap between policy-driven and market-driven eco-innovation strategies is increasingly important for many firms. Barriers to eco-innovation can then emerge as a critical factor in either preventing or stimulating EU strategies, policy implementation, and the green strategies of firms. In this paper we focus on EU-27 SMEs. We single out and explore different firm profiles, considering eco-innovation barriers and engagement. Our analysis is based on a particularly suitable dataset: the Eurobarometer survey on “Attitudes of European entrepreneurs towards eco-innovation”. We identify six clusters of SMEs. These clusters include firms facing either ‘Revealed barriers’ or ‘Deterring barriers’, ‘Cost deterred’ firms, ‘Market deterred’ firms, ‘Non eco-innovators’, and ‘Green champions’. The clusters display substantial differences in terms of eco-innovation adoption. We show that our taxonomy has little overlap with sector classifications. This diversity should be taken into account for successful environmental and innovation policies.


Eco-innovation Barriers to innovation SMEs Green strategy 
JEL O33 Q55 



We are grateful to the participants of the EU-SPRI Conference (University of Manchester, June 2014) and the 2014 Conference of the Italian Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (University of Milan, February 2014) for providing feedback on preliminary versions of the manuscript. We also thank three anonymous referees for their valuable suggestions. Alberto Marzucchi and Roberto Zoboli acknowledge the financial support from the project PRIN-MIUR 2010–2011 “Climate changes in the Mediterranean area: scenarios, mitigation policies and technological innovation” (2010S2LHSE). Giovanni Marin and Roberto Zoboli acknowledge the financial support from the 7th Framework Progamme project EMInInn “Environmental Macro Indicator of Innovation” (283002). The usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Marin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alberto Marzucchi
    • 3
  • Roberto Zoboli
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.IRCrES-CNR Research Institute on Sustainable Economic GrowthNational Research Council of ItalyMilanItaly
  2. 2.OFCE-SciencesPoSophia AntipolisFrance
  3. 3.Department of International Economics, Institutions and DevelopmentCatholic University of MilanMilanItaly

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