Eco-Innovations in Croatia: Exploring Entrepreneurs' Motivation *

By Božić, Ljiljana; Botrić, Valerija | Journal of East European Management Studies, October 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Eco-Innovations in Croatia: Exploring Entrepreneurs' Motivation *


Božić, Ljiljana, Botrić, Valerija, Journal of East European Management Studies


1. Introduction

Research on eco-innovation is a relatively new topic which attracts increasingly more interest of researchers in recent years (Díaz-García/González-Moreno/ Sáez-Martínez, 2015). The growing interest in eco-innovations is related to the global commitment to sustainable development (Smith/Voß/Grin, 2010; Jänicke, 2012). There has been a substantial discussion on how the goals of sustainable development can be achieved (Rennings/Wiggering, 1997). Innovations, which generally take an indispensable role for economic growth, are recognized as highly relevant for sustainable growth as well. A precondition is, naturally, that innovations have "environmental characteristics". Rennings (2000:322) underlines that the focus of innovation toward sustainable development reflects concerns about direction and content of the overall progress.

The importance of eco-innovations for sustainable development and growth is also emphasized in public policies. In 2008, the European Commission launched the Eco-innovation initiative. Furthermore, in 2011, the European Commission launched the Eco-innovation Action Plan (EcoAP), moving towards a comprehensive range of eco-innovative processes, products and services. It was found that the EU environmental policies contribute to the competitiveness of the EU (Costantini/Mazzanti, 2012). This has additionally spurred the research intensity in many European economies. For example, de Marchi (2012) explored the determinants of eco-innovations in Spain, Horbach, Rammer and Rennings (2012) for Germany, Kesidou and Demirel (2012) for the United Kingdom and recently Horbach (2014) for a group of 19 European economies, including some New EU Member States (NMS).

The literature on eco-innovation determinants in transition countries is relatively scarce. Díaz-García, González-Moreno and Sáez-Martínez (2015) argue that there are specific obstacles - competitive advantages based on low labour costs, deficient environmental and industrial policies and the lack of awareness related to potential productivity increases stimulated by eco-innovations - deterring eco-innovation endeavours in transition economies. Horbach (2014) emphasizes the need to analyse the process in Eastern European EU Member States, for which even country-level studies are not readily available. In order to better understand why the transition economies sluggishly introduce eco-innovation as well as to predict possible consequences of joint EU level policy measures, additional research effort is required. EU countries differ with regard to their economic structure (different technologies, energy intensities), but also with regard to sociological structures (different demand for eco-intensive products, regulative framework). Therefore, we can expect that the outcomes of EU harmonisation practices related to the environmental issues will not be the same across the EU countries. Since this is an important push factor for entrepreneurs, the key question is how legislative harmonisation will affect eco-innovation drivers in EU post-transition economies.

In case of Croatia, the data on eco-innovation that would enable research on the impact of joint legislative are not available for the period during which Croatia is officially the EU member state.1 Previous literature on determinants2 of ecoinnovations in Croatia does not exist. Our aim is to understand what motivates Croatian innovators to develop eco-innovations in the accession period in order to provide a point of comparison for future research of the policy harmonisation impact of EU membership. In order to understand better the decisions made by Croatian firms, we seek to find the factors which determine firms' decisions to develop eco-innovation, as well as factors which determine the development of eco-innovation with benefits that occur either during production or during the aftersales use.

Paper takes the following structure: the next section briefly summarizes relevant literature on eco-innovations determinants and discusses the relative position of Croatia to other European economies. …

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