The Growing Business of Mitigating Ecological Footprints

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.
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