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The Growing Business of Mitigating Ecological Footprints


  • Aurélia L. Durand
  • Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné


Over the past decades, polluting firms and government bodies have come to rely increasingly on specialized suppliers for the necessary goods, technologies and services that would alleviate their environmental footprint. These suppliers now form a large and growing industry, the so-called eco-industry', which currently matches the aerospace and pharmaceutical sectors in size. So far, the interface between cleantech sellers and buyers has been mostly overlooked in the academic literature. As a result, its underlying dynamics and potential for value-creation and a better environmental performance are still poorly understood. This conceptual paper first offers an overview of the eco-industry's history and outlines its scope, recent development and growth potential. It then builds upon current knowledge in innovation economics and relationship marketing to analyze the evolving interactions between polluters and their cleantech suppliers towards value co-creation. Current barriers to this trend are next highlighted, the implications for public policy and business strategy are discussed, and some future research avenues are finally outlined. Au cours des dernières décennies, nombre de firmes polluantes et d'agences gouvernementales se sont mises à avoir recours à des fournisseurs spécialisés pour obtenir les produits et services nécessaires à la réduction de leur empreinte écologique. Ces fournisseurs constituent maintenant une industrie vaste et en pleine croissance, dont la taille est actuellement comparable à celle des secteurs aéronautique ou pharmaceutique. Jusqu'à présent, toutefois, l'interface entre vendeurs et acheteurs de technologies propres a été largement ignorée dans la littérature académique. On comprend donc encore mal la dynamique sous-jacente de cette interaction, par conséquent son potentiel à créer de valeur tout en améliorant l'utilisation des ressources environnementales. Cet article propose d'abord un bref aperçu de l'histoire de l'éco-industrie, de son périmètre, de son développement récent et de ses perspectives de croissance. A la lumière de certains faits stylisés et des connaissances actuelles en économie de l'innovation et en marketing relationnel, nous analysons ensuite comment l'interaction entre les entreprises polluantes et leurs fournisseurs de technologies propres pourrait les amener à co-créer de la valeur. Nous mettons en évidence certains obstacles à cet état de chose, présentons leurs implications pour la politique publique et la stratégie d'entreprise, et esquissons finalement quelques avenues de recherche qui nous apparaissent prioritaires.

Suggested Citation

  • Aurélia L. Durand & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2012. "The Growing Business of Mitigating Ecological Footprints," CIRANO Working Papers 2012s-07, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2012s-07

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    References listed on IDEAS

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