Green Product Innovation – An Analytical Framework for Determinants of Green Products in the Electronics Industry.
ETH Zurich, Switzerland,
Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS)
Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED)
|Green products are key success factors in achieving global sustainability. While the necessity and benefits of|
environmental product innovations are beyond dispute, the drivers and obstacles for firms to focus on and
implement environmental innovations are not.
Academia has found three groups of factors that influence a firm's activities regarding environmental innovation
activities. First, the regulatory framework a firm operates in defines the minimum environmental standards to
comply with and may also shape the cost structure for resources, waste and emissions (e.g. taxes). Second, a
firm's market environment is important regarding supply and demand for green (intermediate-) products. Finally,
firm characteristics itself, such as strategy, resources and knowledge play an important role for a firm's path and
advancement in green innovation activities.
During the last years, scholars have begun to integrate all three dimensions when analyzing the determinants of
corporate environmental activities. These studies have not provided clear-cut results (especially the role of
political regulation remains disputed). Additionally, most studies focused on improvements in manufacturing
processes. Manufacturing process cause the major environmental impacts in many industries, but this is not the
case for the electronics industry. In this industry, the entire product life-cycle has large impacts on the
environment, especially the use phase (energy consumption) and after-life disposal (toxic e-waste).
In my paper, I will outline an analytical framework to address this research gap. Drawing on the recent
integrated product policies (IPP) for electrical and electronic equipment in the EU, the regulatory effects can be
analyzed by comparing firms' green product activities in the EU with those in the (less stringently regulated) US.
Additionally, I will present preliminary results of my data collection in Germany. Around 100 companies in the
electronics sector were surveyed on their environmental innovation activities according to the analytical
The empirical relevance of this study is justified by the electronics industry's economical and environmental
importance and also by its consideration as a driver for sustainability (e.g. dematerialisation and knowledge
effects by information and communication technology).