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Financial barriers and environmental innovations: evidence from EU manufacturing firms


  • Claudia Ghisetti
  • Susanna Mancinelli
  • Massimiliano Mazzanti
  • Mariangela Zoli


We analyse the role of financial barriers in affecting the adoption of environmental innovations (EI) with a focus on manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe. In taking stock of the consolidated literature on EI, we find that the role of financial barriers is substantially neglected, although crucial, even more relevant in the current phase of the economic cycle. Our empirical analysis confirms the existence of direct negative effects of financial barriers on environmental innovation investment decisions. It furthermore sheds more light on the determinants of financial barriers that shape firms’ cleaner production choices. Our findings have the following policy implications: properly designed policies can play a critical role, not only by stimulating EI through their determinants, but also by acting on the financial obstacles to eco-innovation.Policy relevanceEnvironmental innovations (EI) are essential to achieve economic growth and environmental protection goals. Technological development is one of the key factors that can counterbalance the growth and population emission-augmenting effects. EI are a priority in major EU policy strategies and a prerequisite for the development of a ‘Resource efficient Europe’, one of the flagship initiatives of Europe 2020. The existence of financial barriers can constitute a serious deterrent for the eco-innovative capacity of firms, even more than for ‘traditional’ innovations, as EI are characterized by high technical risk, long payback period and uncertainty on the appropriability of private rents. This article analyses in depth whether barriers related to external financing affect EI investments and whether the stringency of financial constraints to investments in EI is affected by factors related to EI specificities. We show that when both direct and indirect effects on EI investments are considered, the role of the policy framework appears to be as particularly crucial in order to reverse the risk/return trade-off of eco-innovative investments. Targeting policy interventions to facilitate access to credit and to mitigate capital markets’ imperfections is essential to mitigate the apparent contradiction between EU industrial policies and climate abatement scenarios.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Ghisetti & Susanna Mancinelli & Massimiliano Mazzanti & Mariangela Zoli, 2017. "Financial barriers and environmental innovations: evidence from EU manufacturing firms," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(0), pages 131-147, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:tcpoxx:v:17:y:2017:i:0:p:s131-s147
    DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2016.1242057

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. D’Orazio, Paola & Valente, Marco, 2019. "The role of finance in environmental innovation diffusion: An evolutionary modeling approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 417-439.
    2. Lorenzo Esposito & Ettore Giuseppe Gatti & Giuseppe Mastromatteo, 2019. "Sustainable finance, the good, the bad and the ugly: a critical assessment of the EU institutional framework for the green transition," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0004, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    3. Pasquale Marcello Falcone, 2018. "Green investment strategies and bank-firm relationship: a firm-level analysis," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 38(4), pages 2225-2239.
    4. Bodas-Freitas, Isabel-Maria & Corrocher, Nicoletta, 2019. "The use of external support and the benefits of the adoption of resource efficiency practices: An empirical analysis of european SMEs," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 75-82.
    5. Paola D’Orazio & Marco Valente, 2018. "Do Financial Constraints Hamper Environmental Innovation Diffusion? An Agent-Based Approach," SPRU Working Paper Series 2018-10, SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School.
    6. D'Amato, Alessio & Giaccherini, Matilde & Zoli, Mariangela, 2019. "The Role of Information Sources and Providers in Shaping Green Behaviors. Evidence from Europe," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 1-1.
    7. Grazia Cecere & Nicoletta Corrocher & Maria Luisa Mancusi, 2020. "Financial constraints and public funding of eco-innovation: empirical evidence from European SMEs," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 54(1), pages 285-302, January.
    8. Sarah Hafner & Olivia James & Aled Jones, 2019. "A Scoping Review of Barriers to Investment in Climate Change Solutions," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(11), pages 1-19, June.
    9. Alfonso Aranda-Usón & Pilar Portillo-Tarragona & Luz María Marín-Vinuesa & Sabina Scarpellini, 2019. "Financial Resources for the Circular Economy: A Perspective from Businesses," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(3), pages 1-23, February.
    10. Francesco Aiello & Paola Cardamone & Lidia Mannarino & Valeria Pupo, 2019. "Firm Ownership And Green Patents. Does Family Involvement In Business Matter?," Working Papers 201904, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    11. Elisenda Jové-Llopis & Agustí Segarra-Blasco, 2018. "Eco-Efficiency Actions and Firm Growth in European SMEs," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(1), pages 1-26, January.
    12. Raul Caruso & Antonella Biscione & Annunziata de Felice, 2020. "Environmental Innovation in European Transition Countries," Working Papers 1005, European Centre of Peace Science, Integration and Cooperation (CESPIC), Catholic University 'Our Lady of Good Counsel'.

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