Title: Economic theories of eco-innovations: a comparison between the neoclassical and evolutionary approaches

Authors: Edgardo Sica

Addresses: Department of Economics and STAR*AgroEnergy Group, University of Foggia (Italy), L.go Papa Giovanni Paolo II, 1, Foggia 71121, Italy

Abstract: The present paper contributes to the debate on eco-innovations (EIs) by comparing their role within the framework of two contrasting theoretical perspectives: the neoclassical vs. the evolutionary viewpoint. In the neoclassical approach, EIs play a crucial role in achieving the goal of environmental sustainability mainly through their contribution to the technological progress that can offset the negative effects of the exhaustion of natural resources. By contrast, evolutionists analyse EIs in their dynamic and multi-dimensional nature, recognising the important role played by organisational, social, and institutional innovations for environmental sustainability. In this framework, the deterministic neoclassical perspective seems to be particularly useful to investigate specific characteristics of EIs, such as efficiency and role of environmental regulation. By contrast, the evolutionary theories are suitable to investigate radical innovations and to avoid any technology bias, by stressing the need for consideration of social and institutional dimensions.

Keywords: eco-innovation; neoclassical economics; evolutionary economics; sustainable development; sustainability; economic theories; environmental sustainability; environmental regulation; radical innovation; technology bias.

DOI: 10.1504/IJISD.2016.073417

International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, 2016 Vol.10 No.1, pp.87 - 102

Received: 14 Feb 2014
Accepted: 06 Mar 2015

Published online: 02 Dec 2015 *

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