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Cooperation Networks as a Driver of Sustainability-Oriented Innovation

Alberto Melane-Lavado () and Agustín Álvarez-Herranz ()
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Alberto Melane-Lavado: Spanish and International Economics Department, Econometrics and History and Economic Institutions, Castilla-La Mancha University (UCLM), 02071 Albacete, Spain
Agustín Álvarez-Herranz: Spanish and International Economics Department, Econometrics and History and Economic Institutions, Castilla-La Mancha University (UCLM), 02071 Albacete, Spain

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 7, 1-26

Abstract: Companies can contribute to sustainable development in a dynamic and globalized market, such as today’s, through Sustainability-Oriented Innovation (SOI). However, to do this implies meeting specific requirements and dealing with greater complexity because of the higher level of sophistication of cooperation networks for this kind of innovation. In this context, to meet the requirements demanded by SOI, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is considered fundamental. However, it is not known whether their capacity to focus more on heterogeneous knowledge sources, which, thanks to their cooperation networks, are broad and geographically diverse, would have a differential impact on SOIs. Through comparative analysis, this paper attempts to shed light on the possible network differences for companies, with and without FDI, looking to undertake SOI. It focuses on the knowledge framework and geographical scope stemming from cooperation for successfully undertaking sustainable developments. To this end, three networks had to be set up, which include diversity, scope, experience, and frequency of national, European, and global cooperation. The results lend strength to the theory that SOI is favored by European and global cooperation networks if companies have FDI, and by national networks if there is no foreign participation. For this, the role of absorptive capacity is key, understood as a joint analysis of R&D intensity and the skills and education of employees tasked with innovation, and the implementation of new organizational methods. Lastly, it is confirmed that having FDI allows companies to have qualified employees, and better methods and organizational practices in connection with an openness to innovation.

Keywords: sustainability-oriented innovation; foreign direct investment; cooperation networks; absorptive capacity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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