Sustainability Transition in Established Corporations: Role of Technological Innovation

6th Biennial Conference of the Indian Academy of Management (INDAM) – 2020, IIM-Tiruchirappalli, India

12 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2020 Last revised: 27 Aug 2020

See all articles by Rahul Patil

Rahul Patil

Indian Institute of Science (IISc)

Akriti Jain

Indian Institute of Science

Anjula Gurtoo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 4, 2020

Abstract

Sustainability transition theories analyze a systematic shift towards sustainability at micro (niche), meso (regime) and macro (landscape) level. The assessment of technological systems and structures at the firm level in sustainability transition literature is scant. The present study, taking the technological assessment perspective at the firm level, finds answers to questions like (a) how do established corporations move towards sustainable practices? (b) what role does technological innovation play in the firm’s transition towards sustainability? (c) what technological modes get adopted for sustainability transition? We find answers to these questions through an in-depth case analysis of two multi-national companies in the consumer goods industry. Internally developed and externally acquired technologies by firms in the last 15 years are plotted using qualitative and quantitative indicators on pre-designed templates. Technologies for all three sustainability dimensions, namely, environmental, social and economic, get mapped and the impact assessed. The analysis finds a sustainability transition landscape reflecting the use of protected (patents, trademarks, designs) and unprotected technologies (open innovation) to generate impacts like production efficiency, consumption reduction, emission reduction, reduce-recycle-reuse among others. Companies implementing sustainable technologies do observe positive impacts. Implementation of reduce-reuse- recycle (3R)-based technologies enhance the achievement of sustainable development targets. Furthermore, the use of trademarks seems common in differentiating their technologies and identities. The last section uses these and other results to comment on the role of managing intellectual property and harnessing the effect of technological innovations in sustainability transition.

Keywords: Sustainability transition, technological innovation, consumer goods industry, sustainability impacts

JEL Classification: Q01, Q55, O34

Suggested Citation

Patil, Rahul and Jain, Akriti and Gurtoo, Anjula, Sustainability Transition in Established Corporations: Role of Technological Innovation (January 4, 2020). 6th Biennial Conference of the Indian Academy of Management (INDAM) – 2020, IIM-Tiruchirappalli, India, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3635658

Rahul Patil

Indian Institute of Science (IISc) ( email )

Bangalore, IN Karnataka 560012
India

Akriti Jain (Contact Author)

Indian Institute of Science ( email )

Malleshwaram
Bangalore, 560012
India

Anjula Gurtoo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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