Exploring the Pitfalls of Systemic Innovations for Sustainability

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Sustainable Business In Association with Future Earth book series (PSSBAFE)


Systemic innovation can deliver influential sustainability solutions, but it occurs rarely. Increasing sustainability challenges firms to improve the system as a whole through broadening their engagement by game-changing innovations. This empirical case study explores the challenges faced by Finnish business leaders that hold back attempts at systemic innovation for sustainability. The challenges were identified to be caused by structural impediments, uncertainty avoidance and conflicting aims within and between firms. These in turn manifest as cumulative problems in managing opportunity costs, outcome uncertainties and communication problems along the entire innovation process. The study highlights the need for firms to acquire capabilities for sustainability by focusing on building capabilities in open innovation, evaluating and seizing radical opportunities and reconfiguring the organization for systemic innovations for sustainability.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LUT UniversityLappeenrantaFinland
  2. 2.Climate-KIC AustraliaChippendaleAustralia

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