Economic theories of eco-innovations: a comparison between the neoclassical and evolutionary approaches
by Edgardo Sica
International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development (IJISD), Vol. 10, No. 1, 2016

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.

Online publication date: Wed, 02-Dec-2015

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