Erik Hansen, Julia Schmitt,
"Radical innovation for sustainability: Same same, but different?"
, in IPDMC 2022 Hamburg, in IPDMC, 7-2022
Radical innovation for sustainability: Same same, but different?
Sprache des Titels:
Radical innovation has been explored for several decades in technology and innovation management. Recently, radical innovation has become a practice of interest to enable organisations in making contributions to sustainable development, because incremental improvement of environmental and social performances of products may not solve the fundamental problems associated with unsustainable consumption and production systems. While for those sustainability-oriented innovations where core functionality is revolutionized by the discovery of new technologies the radical nature is mostly evident (e.g. energy production with solar photovoltaic panels; cars with electric engines), for those where novelty addresses the broader product design (i.e. sustainable design) and related sustainability performance (e.g. products based on closed-loop packaging recycling; clothing with new biodegradable properties to prevent micro plastic), the radical degree often remains unobserved or even misjudged. To explore the nature of radical innovation in such sustainable product categories, we adopt existing multi-dimensional measures for assessing radical innovation from extant research with the following dimensions: technological uncertainty, technological inexperience, business inexperience, and technology cost. We conducted a multiple case study on successful innovation projects following the cradle-to-cradle product design standard, which is known for its demand for radical product redesign to achieve non-toxic, recycled, and/or biodegradable products compatible with a circular economy. Based on the case evidence, we inductively derive factors for the four above dimensions to characterise the radical nature of the sustainability innovation. Our contribution lies in bridging hitherto separate bodies of literatures on radical innovation in conventional and sustainability contexts with a framework to determine the nature of redesign-based sustainability innovations. Managers can use the framework as a diagnostic tool to better anticipate the complexity of sustainability innovation.