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Do independent, female and specialist directors promote eco‐innovation and eco‐design in agri‐food firms?

Isabel‐María García‐Sánchez, Isabel Gallego‐Álvarez and José‐Luis Zafra‐Gómez

Business Strategy and the Environment, 2021, vol. 30, issue 2, 1136-1152

Abstract: Eco‐innovation and eco‐design strategies are associated with firms' innovation capabilities. Moreover, they may impact on access to public subsidies and on financial performance. In this respect, the agri‐food industry is especially vulnerable, because in general, this sector has less experience of technological innovation, and managers are more likely to be averse to such projects. On the other hand, the board may promote a proactive environmental approach to defend the interests of investors and other stakeholders, taking the view that these strategies reduce the environmental impact of the firm's products and its production processes and are therefore beneficial. Our study aim is to identify the profile of directors who may be favourable to eco‐design and eco‐innovation strategies, focusing on the traits of independence, gender diversity and environmental specialisation. The results obtained, from a dependence model based on panel data supplied by 321 agri‐food companies for the period 2002–2017 (unbalanced panel data with 4878 observations), show that independent directors play a crucial role in implementing eco‐innovation and eco‐design projects. However, neither the diversity nor the specialisation of directors is a significant factor in this regard.

Date: 2021
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