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Environmentally oriented innovative strategies and firm performance in services. Micro-evidence from Italy


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  • Giulio Cainelli
  • Massimiliano Mazzanti
  • Roberto Zoboli


This paper aims at analysing the impact of environmentally oriented innovative strategies on firms' economic performance in terms of employment, turnover and labour productivity growth. We exploit a unique dataset of 773 Italian service firms with 20 or more employees, based on 1993-1995 Community Innovation Survey (CIS) II data on innovation strategies and 1995-1998 System of the Enterprise Account (SEA). Using a Gibrat-like empirical model, our findings show a negative link between environmental motivations and growth in employment and turnover in the short term, which then associates to a not significant or even negative effect on labour productivity growth, a result which is explainable by various factors: non-mature markets; early movers that need more time to grasp the benefits of innovative actions; weaknesses of some service branches. The effect on employment is in part compatible with the existing evidence and may be based on efficiency improvements (dematerialisation processes), which also impact on efficiency by reducing workforce numbers. The effect on turnover of environmental innovation strategy is negative, implying either a short-medium effect, possibly balanced in the long run by net benefits in terms of higher added value, or a real negative impact, which may be contingent on the period of observation, when environmental strategies where not at the heart of strategic management policies. Neither Porter-like effects nor virtuous circles among environmentally strategies and performance seem to be present, at least in the short run and for services firms, calling for the necessity of further analyses on medium- long-term effects and performances of specific service branches. Though effects on performances could turn out positive in the long run when mature green markets and investments provide their benefits, our evidence highlights that services could still find hard times in tackling the well-known low productivity 'disease' even in the environmental realm.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Review of Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 61-85

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Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:25:y:2011:i:1:p:61-85

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Keywords: services; firm environmental strategies; firm growth; CIS survey; innovation;

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Cited by:
  1. Giulio Cainelli & Massimiliano Mazzanti, 2012. "Environmental Innovations in Services. Manufacturing-Services Integration and Policy Transmissions," Working Papers 201208, University of Ferrara, Department of Economics.
  2. Davide Antonioli & Simone Borghesi & Massimiliano Mazzanti, 2014. "Are Regional Systems Greening the Economy? the Role of Environmental Innovations and Agglomeration Forces," Working Papers 2014.42, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  3. Doran, Justin & Ryan, Geraldine, 2012. "Regulation and Firm Perception, Eco-Innovation and Firm Performance," MPRA Paper 44578, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Giulio Cainelli & Massimiliano Mazzanti & Roberto Zoboli, 2011. "Enviromental Innovations, Complementarity and Local/Global Cooperation," Working Papers 201104, University of Ferrara, Department of Economics.
  5. Massimiliano Mazzanti & Giulio Cainelli & Roberto Zoboli, 2008. "The Relationship Between Environmental Efficiency and Manufacturing Firm’s Growth," Working Papers 2008.99, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  6. Davide Antonioli & Massimiliano Mazzanti, 2009. "Techno-organisational strategies, environmental innovations and economic performances. Micro-evidence from an SME-based industrial district," Journal of Innovation Economics, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(1), pages 145-168.


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