Customer and supplier collaboration in green product innovation: external and internal capabilities
Journal article, 2018
Firms collaborate in green product innovation (GPI) to develop products with less environmental impact. These products typically use less energy, have lower emissions and incorporate more environmentally friendly materials. In an industrial setting, firms often collaborate along the supply chain with customers and suppliers. This paper focuses on external and internal capabilities that firms need when collaborating in GPI. The paper builds on data from five large industrial firms in ten case studies, in which these firms collaborate with customers and suppliers to innovate green products to an industrial market. External and internal capabilities are investigated. The study points to the importance of finding a suitable partner. Partners need to have environmental expertise and contribute knowledge or technology that is new to the firm. Firms need to combine relational capabilities, such as trust, with contractual agreements in collaborative innovations. The findings point to the importance of knowledge management with the partner as well as internally in the firm. The study shows that no partner collaboration operates in isolation but is situated in a network context.