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Focal Organisations and Eco–innovation in Consumption and Production Systems

Dewick, P and Foster, C (2017) Focal Organisations and Eco–innovation in Consumption and Production Systems. Ecological Economics, 143. pp. 161-169. ISSN 0921-8009

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© 2017 This paper explores the role of ‘focal organisations’ in stimulating eco-innovation at the locus of greatest environmental impacts within a consumption and production system (CPS). Focal organisations by definition have considerable power in these systems. We combine insights from the innovation studies literature with the sustainable/green supply chain literature to explore how focal organisations exercise this power in pursuit of system-wide sustainability. Through a case study of the milk CPS in the UK, we illustrate different strategies of the focal organisations to stimulate incremental eco-innovation along existing trajectories. We also show how, despite focal organisation support, radical eco-innovation is inhibited by inherent path dependencies and other institutional dimensions of the CPS. By demonstrating the complementarities of positioning the case study findings within two synergistic literatures, this paper contributes theoretically by extending and elaborating eco-innovation studies. It also has a practical utility for policy makers seeking to chart a path to more sustainable CPS by relying on focal organisations.

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