Green Innovation in Technological Networks: An Abstract
As green innovation becomes more prominent in the marketplace, organizations increasingly use interfirm partnerships to manage green innovation projects. Yet, most of extant research on green technology partnerships are case studies analyzing them at the project or firm level and “often do not explicitly address the mechanisms through which influencing factors affect innovative capacities” (Boons & Lüdeke-Freund, 2013). Firms need a better understanding of how interfirm relationships can be leveraged to enhance green innovation and maximize environmental and social benefits (Katsikeas et al., 2016; Wassmer et al., 2014).
Given the growing importance of green technologies in the marketplace and responding to the call for more research into implementation forms and outcomes of green marketing strategies, we propose a model that links firm’s green patenting activities to the structure and knowledge attributes of interfirm networks at the firm and industry levels. Based on the intensive archival search, we build a unique database observing industry-wide technological networks in the chemical sector over the period from 2005 to 2012 and covering 314 firm-years.
The findings suggest that networks of technological partnerships can be instrumental in leveraging firm green innovation. Firms that invest in green technology partnerships are more likely to apply for green patents than firms working on green product projects in-house. Both knowledge attributes and network structure have an impact on firm green innovation. However, mixed patterns emerge, if different levels of analysis are considered. At the level of a firm network, the breadth of knowledge pool, knowledge compatibility, and knowledge specificity are all important determinants of firm green innovation. At the level of industry network, none of the knowledge attributes or the structural attributes had effect on firm green innovation. Importantly, the results demonstrate that breadth of knowledge pool and knowledge compatibility attributes play different, although complementary roles in knowledge creation process and, thus, both are necessary for understanding of the impact of knowledge heterogeneity. These findings help reconcile mixed empirical results in general innovation literature regarding the impact of knowledge heterogeneity on firm innovation. Next, knowledge specificity also positively affects a propensity of a firm to create green innovation. Firms maintaining green technology partnerships are more likely to develop green domain-specific knowledge transfer mechanisms and create green innovation in interfirm relationships.