Inderscience Publishers

Sustainability innovation contests: evaluating contributions with an eco impact-innovativeness typology

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Companies operating in business-to-consumer markets have been increasingly pressured to transcend the focus on economic and technological innovations and to address more environmental-friendly and socially desirable products and services, i.e. to engage in Sustainability-oriented Innovation (SOI). This paper examines the suitability of innovation contests to generate SOIs and the resulting degree of innovativeness in conventional and ecological terms. Using a case study of an innovation contest in the shoe industry, we derive three strands of results. First, a large majority of the submissions belongs to the category of product care. Second, submissions categorised as ?greenwashing? receive a better average assessment, although technically equal to the ones of product care. Third, using eco-impact class as the first axis, and the (conventional) innovativeness criteria ? as judged by the experts ? as the second axis, we develop an eco impact-innovativeness grid. It illustrates that a vast majority of user submissions falls into the classes incremental innovation and radical conventional innovation. Results go beyond previous studies and thus contribute to the fields of open innovation and SOI.

Keywords: open innovation, eco innovation, sustainability innovation, innovation process, fuzzy frontend, idea management, idea contests, creativity, evaluation, innovativeness, case study, shoe industry

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