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Is Strategic Proactivity a Driver of an Environmental Strategy? Effects of Innovation and Internationalization Leadership


  • Ines Suarez-Perales

    () (Department of Management, University of Zaragoza, 50005 Zaragoza, Spain)

  • Concepción Garces-Ayerbe

    () (Department of Management, University of Zaragoza, 50005 Zaragoza, Spain)

  • Pilar Rivera-Torres

    () (Department of Marketing, University of Zaragoza, 50005 Zaragoza, Spain)

  • Cristina Suarez-Galvez

    () (Department of Economy, University of Alcalá, 28802 Alcala de Henares, Spain)


This study analyses strategic proactivity as a driving factor in the implementation of an advanced environmental strategy in a firm. Strategic proactivity is defined as a firm’s tendency to initiate voluntary changes instead of reacting to events in the environment and according to previous literature, can be interpreted as a combination of internal factors that characterise a firm’s business strategy as that of a prospector firm. In this study, we measured this through innovation, with two variables related to the firm’s entire production cycle: R&D expenditure and patents. However, we also considered two more strategic proactivity indicators: innovation proactivity and internationalisation proactivity. These two proactivity variables take into account the innovative and international actions of the firms, going beyond the actions usually taken by firms in the same sector. Using panel data methodology, we obtained results that show that firms who invest in R&D and patent their innovations achieve more advanced positions in their environmental strategies. Empirical evidence also shows that firms with a greater innovation effort throughout the production cycle (product, process, organisation and marketing) than their competitors also attain more advanced positions (proactivity) in environmental matters. In other words, innovation proactivity is a driver of environmental strategy. In relation to internationalization, the results also showed that firms that operate in a larger geographical area than their competitors adapt to the most demanding environmental legislation, placing them in a position of environmental leadership in their respective sectors. The inclusion of internationalization as an indicator of strategic proactivity, the measurement of proactivity variables and the correction of firms’ specific unobserved aspects are some of this paper’s contributions.

Suggested Citation

  • Ines Suarez-Perales & Concepción Garces-Ayerbe & Pilar Rivera-Torres & Cristina Suarez-Galvez, 2017. "Is Strategic Proactivity a Driver of an Environmental Strategy? Effects of Innovation and Internationalization Leadership," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(10), pages 1-1, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:10:p:1870-:d:115533

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Beatriz Forés, 2019. "Beyond Gathering the ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ of Green Technology for Improved Environmental Performance: an Empirical Examination of the Moderating Effects of Proactive Environmental Management and Busine," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(22), pages 1-1, November.
    2. Sibele Recco Rosso Comim, 2020. "Relationship between Chinese firms’ Internationalization and Environmental performance: An empirical evidence," International Journal of Science and Business, IJSAB International, vol. 4(11), pages 111-118.
    3. Oksana Seroka‐Stolka & Kamil Fijorek, 2020. "Enhancing corporate sustainable development: Proactive environmental strategy, stakeholder pressure and the moderating effect of firm size," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(6), pages 2338-2354, September.
    4. Sara Walton & Annie Zhang & Conor O'Kane, 2020. "Energy eco‐innovations for sustainable development: Exploring organizational strategic capabilities through an energy cultures framework," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(3), pages 812-826, March.
    5. JS Keshminder & Pablo del Río, 2019. "The missing links? The indirect impacts of drivers on eco‐innovation," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 26(5), pages 1100-1118, September.
    6. Enrique Loredo & Nuria Lopez-Mielgo & Gustavo Pineiro-Villaverde & María Teresa García-Álvarez, 2019. "Utilities: Innovation and Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(4), pages 1-1, February.
    7. Milena N. Rajić & Rado M. Maksimović & Pedja Milosavljević & Dragan Pavlović, 2019. "Energy Management System Application for Sustainable Development in Wood Industry Enterprises," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(1), pages 1-1, December.
    8. Efrén Gómez‐Bolaños & Nuria Esther Hurtado‐Torres & Blanca Luisa Delgado‐Márquez, 2020. "Disentangling the influence of internationalization on sustainability development: Evidence from the energy sector," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(1), pages 229-239, January.
    9. Yali Zhang & Jun Sun & Zhaojun Yang & Shurong Li, 2018. "Organizational Learning and Green Innovation: Does Environmental Proactivity Matter?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(10), pages 1-1, October.

    More about this item


    environmental strategy; innovation; internationalization; leadership; strategic proactivity;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products


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