Eco - Innovation in European SMEs: between Limitation and Possibilities

AuthorIonica Oncioiu
European Integration - Realities and Perspectives. Proceedings 2015
Eco Innovation in European SMEs: between Limitation and Possibilities
Ionica Oncioiu1
Abstract: During the recent decades many SMEs have started to use the term eco-innovation to describe the
contributions of business to sustainable development while improving competitiveness. According to
literature review, eco-innovation can be generally defined as innovation that results in a reduction of
environmental impact, no matter whether or not that effect is intended. This pap er examines whether using
eco -innovation is an opportunity for increasing the competitiveness of SMEs at a European level. An
empirical study is carried out using data from 112 European SMEs between May 2014 and December 2014 in
the following areas: agriculture, manufacturing, environmental industries and construction. The results of this
study show that the eco-innovative barriers and engagement in green innovative activities are strongly related
to the SME's adoption performance. Moreover, th is paper also provides that eco -innovation is therefore a
powerful instrument, combining reduced negative impact on th e environment with a positive impact on the
economy and society.
Keywords: eco-innovation; SMEs; sustainability
JEL Classification: O32; O33; Q01
1 Introduction
The term eco- 
Fussler and Peter James in 1996. The authors defined the concept as new products and processes that
provide customer and business value while significantly decreasing environmental impacts.
Based on the Oslo Manual and drawing from other authors (e.g. Reid and Miedzinski, 2008; MERIT
et al., 2008), eco-innovation can be described as the implementation of new, or significantly
improved, products (goods and services), processes, marketing methods, organisational structures and
institutional arrangements which, with or without intent, lead to environmental improvements
compared to relevant alternatives.
Based on literature review, various eco-innovation activities can be analysed along three dimensions:
targets (the focus areas of eco-innovation: products, processes, marketing methods, organisations and
institutions); mechanisms (the ways in which changes are made in the targets: modification, redesign,
alternatives and creation); and impacts (effects of eco-innovation on the environment).
1 Professor, PhD, Titu Maiorescu University, Romania, Address: 22 Dâmbovnicului Str., Bucharest 040441, Romania, Tel.
+4 021 316 1646, Corresponding author:

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