Patterns of innovation and organizational demography in emerging sustainable fields: An analysis of the chemical sector
This paper examines the patterns of environmental innovation in the chemical sector and focuses in particular on detecting whether the rise of sustainable chemistry technologies (SCT) has stimulated the emergence of new organizations. This question is important to assess the extent to which SCT are sustaining the technological advantage of industry incumbents or are creating opportunities for new firms aspiring to develop radically new environmental innovations. We found that SCT still represent a relatively low proportion of chemical technologies and that they have not stimulated, in a significant way, the emergence of new firms. However, the importance of new firms has grown in the last 20 years and their technologies seem to have a higher potential of radicalness than incumbents’ technologies. This indicates that, although incumbents’ advantage remains strong, a small group of young firms has started to weaken such advantage. Moreover, the important role played by research organizations in generating SCT may signal that technological opportunities are expanding and that some governments, in particular the US government, are committed to develop SCT. These results suggest that, if supported by effective policies, technological ferment in the field, which at the present appears still limited, has a potential of growth.
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