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Bernard Arogyaswamy Professor, Madden School of Business LeMoyne College, Syracuse, New York

Business Strategies for Innovation in Environmental and Social Sustainability: A Conceptual Framework

As innovation proceeds apace, its consequences, arising from our dependence on the innovation-consumption-growth cycle, pose an ever-mounting challenge. In this paper, we investigate how innovation could be supportive of, rather than inimical to, sustainability. We divide innovation into three categories (product, process, managerial) while environmental sustainability strategies are classified as being cost-driven or based on differentiation. Social-sustainability (Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR) strategies are exemplified by the dimensions of Community and Employees. To demonstrate the range of options available to firms seeking to pursue either or both strands of sustainability, the three types of innovation are cross-classified against the four forms of sustainability, yielding twelve options to innovate for/in sustainability. The resulting table could be of use in locating a firm’s strategic position on the Innovation-Sustainability Matrix, possible future strategies, the compatibility of its positions on the environmental and social fronts, and finding value-gaps in the sustainability ecosystem.