Join the Eco-Innovation Bandwagon: Evidence from Chinese Firms

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 17:00
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Yuan Zheng LI, Université Laval, Canada
China, the largest greenhouse gas emitter with a fast-growing economy, faces challenges in dealing with environmental issues.  In three decades, the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region has become the “factory of the world” and one of the most polluted coastal zones in China[1]. Its industry sector consumed two-thirds of its energy and emitted the most carbon dioxide[2]. However, some companies have launched eco-innovations to improve their environmental performance.

What are the driving forces and barriers to eco-innovations? How technologies are being used to address environmental issues? This presentation seeks to address these questions and offer insights into innovation processes under business and sociological perspectives, namely the Porter Hypothesis and the theory of ecological modernization. It focuses on examining factors that may trigger the introduction of cleaner technologies and environmental improvements. Furthermore, the work aims to invite discussions on eco-innovations in the context of an emerging economy and technical resolutions of environmental issues through the greening of industry.

Based on empirical research conducted in 100 companies from more than a dozen industries located in the PRD region during 2013 and 2014, this work combines quantitative and qualitative methods of primary data collection including survey, interview, and participant observation. Secondary data, such as environmental audit reports are used to obtain detailed information on organizations’ environmental performance and a better understanding of its products and processes.

The claims made by the Ecological Modernization and the Porter Hypothesis are supported in some respects. Strict environmental regulation can drive the process of innovation with environmental and economic gains. More specifically, such policy is most likely influence strategic decision-making for export-oriented firms and companies possessing capacities to take environmental actions. Although some firms move beyond control technology to cleaner technologies, most of them tend to focus on incremental innovation.