Unconventional path dependence:How adopting product take-back and recycling systems contributes to future eco-innovations


Eco-innovation (EI) allows organizations to achieve environmental and economic gains but the conditions for successful EI to occur are unclear. This paper proposes that firms can improve their EI performance by adopting circular economy (CE) systems and technologies, such as product take-back and recycling. We thus explore an unconventional, systems- and technology-driven path dependence dynamic leading to higher EI performance because of prior CE commitments (instead of managerial initiatives directly aimed at fostering EI). An analysis of 724 firms shows that the adoption of such technologies and systems puts firms on a sustainability path: firms benefit from making further changes to improve the functioning of these systems, which in turn create the conditions and capabilities for future EIs. Environmental supply chain policies thus mediate the relationship as the firm adopting take-back and recycling needs to involve outside partners in their administration. Neither environmental management systems nor data protection policies act as mediators. This is the first quantitative study that considers take-back and recycling and EI scores with a cross-national-cross-sectorial sample size. The results indicate that firms should see the introduction of CE systems and technologies as an opportunity for EI.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2021.12.057
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Operations & Information Management
Additional Information: © 2022, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ Funding Information: Haiyan Wang is grateful for funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 91746202; 71433006).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Circular economy,Eco-innovation,Environmental management systems,Environmental supply chains,Marketing
Publication ISSN: 1873-7978
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
https://www.sci ... 9723?via%3Dihub (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2022-03
Published Online Date: 2022-01-17
Accepted Date: 2021-12-24
Authors: Wang, Haiyan
Masi, Donato (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-4553-3244)
Dhamotharan, Lalitha
Day, Steven
Kumar, Ajay
Li, Tong
Singh, Gurmeet



Version: Accepted Version

Access Restriction: Restricted to Repository staff only until 17 July 2023.

License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives

Export / Share Citation


Additional statistics for this record