The mediating role of environmental innovation in the relationship between environmental management and firm performance in a multi-stakeholder environment

E. Grekova, H.J. Bremmers, J.H. Trienekens, R.G.M. Kemp, S.W.F. Omta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nowadays, firms are increasingly challenged to bridge potentially conflicting economic interests of primary commercial stakeholders and sustainability demands from secondary non-commercial stakeholder groups. While a number of firms view investments in environmental management as disconnected from their value-creating activities, others have reported achieved cost efficiency and differentiation advantages. Prior research suggests that environmental innovation might be the missing link between environmental management and firm performance. However, the mediating effect of environmental innovation in the relationship between environmental management and a firm's performance had not been empirically tested so far. Our paper provides a contribution by conducting an empirical investigation into this possible mediating effect. Although the presumed mediating role of environmental innovation suggests that it is influenced by internal environmental management, environmental innovation literature is especially concerned with the role of external stakeholders in environmental innovation. This study investigates the role of the engagement of stakeholders such as supply chain partners, industry, and public authorities in environmental impact reduction. We hypothesise that environmental innovation positively mediates the relationship between environmental management and firm performance, and that the engagement of stakeholders has a positive impact on environmental innovation. The research model was tested with a variance-based structural equation model using data from 90 Dutch food and beverage firms. The results confirm the positive mediating effect of environmental process innovation on the relationship between environmental management and cost efficiency advantage. Environmental product innovation contributes to a differentiation advantage but it is not significantly influenced by environmental management. So we could not support a positive mediating effect of environmental product innovation on the relationship between environmental management and differentiation advantage. Instead, environmental collaboration with supply chain partners has a strong positive impact on environmental product innovation. It also positively influences environmental process innovation but this influence is much weaker than the influence of internal environmental management. Our findings can assist managers in their decision making regarding the implementation of environmental innovations and environmental collaboration with external parties. The study is also relevant to policy makers as a tool to assess the appropriateness of their policy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-137
JournalJournal on Chain and Network Science
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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