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Sustainable Profits? The Interaction of business and corporate sustainability strategies and effects on environmental, social and economic performance with a focus on firm-level innovation aspects

Final Activity Report Summary - SUS - PRO INNOVATION (Sustainable profits - The interaction of business and corporate sustainability strategies and effects on environmental, social ... performance)

This Marie Curie Fellowship held by Dr. Marcus Wagner (scientist-in-charge: Prof. Patrick Llerena) addressed the question of how business and sustainability strategies interact as concerns innovation aspects and what effects on firm performance emerge from this. It is based on a quantitative analysis as well as in-depth case studies.

The quantitative analysis finds significant positive association of integration with firms' financial and economic performance and shows that integration moderates the link between environmental, social and financial/economic performance. Building on this, the case studies shed light on the actual mechanisms that enable such associations, focussing particularly on innovation aspects. They find that sustainability-related innovation is oftentimes based on long-existing competences of the company that are transferred from one application field to another and that hence the knowledge base in the company is the result of a historic and evolutionary process i.e. is path-dependent.

Overall, the results of the research (which have been widely disseminated and published in premier business and economics journals) reveal as a key implication for policy making from this Marie Curie Fellowship is hence that innovating for sustainability is not as strategically feasible as this may be wished for by industry and governments and that there is a need for novel and dedicated knowledge transfer mechanisms to transfer capabilities for sustainability-related innovation across firms in an economy.