Innovation and paths to social-ecological sustainability

Demissie Damite Degato

Abstract


The traditional approach to innovation assessment has mainly focused on the economic outcomes and failed to capture the ecological and social dimensions of sustainability. By giving high attention to the role of specific kind of innovation (technological innovation), there is little empirical work on whether combining different kinds of innovation leads to progress in social-ecological sustainability in developing countries. The sustainability orientation in the assessment of innovation performance becomes increasingly important for achieve successful transformation towards sustainability. The research question of this study is under what condition or combination of conditions the intervention for innovation reconciles the trade-offs between socioeconomic and ecological performance and thus improve progress towards sustainability in poor countries. Combing concepts and methods from literature on strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR), value chain upgrading, sustainability, and technological capability, this study identifies different mechanisms and conditions for building innovation capacity and then empirically evaluates the relationship between the degree of innovation capacity and the progress towards social-ecological sustainability by taking four cases from Ethiopia. The data for this study is collected using key informant interviews, focus group discussion, and biodiversity and innovation scorecard questionnaire. Mixed methods combing comprehensive fuzzy evaluation, biodiversity scorecard and qualitative comparative analysis are used for analysis. The study found that combing value chain innovation and green governance innovation either with technological upgrading or innovation platform learning are sufficient conditions for achieving social-ecological sustainability. We also found that innovation in green governance and in value chain are necessary conditions for sustainability. By developing and applying fuzzy comprehensive evaluation model for measuring innovation capacity and fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis for identifying necessary and sufficient conditions for sustainability, this study made an important methodological contribution to existing literature.


Keywords


Innovation; qualitative comparative analysis; sustainability; Fuzzy assessment

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24212/2179-3565.2017v8i2p3-33

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