Companies as well as consumers depend on sustainability innovations for contributing to an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable economy. So far, the number of genuine sustainability innovations is, however, still limited in their scope and scale. Open Innovation, that is integrating e.g. customers into the innovation process, is one way of promoting the development and diffusion of sustainability innovations. Plenty of research has been conducted on the integration of customers as consumers by now, yet little attention has been paid to employees in their role as consumers. But there is evidence that employees in their double role as both company members and consumers bear a substantial potential to foster sustainable innovations tailored to the companies’ and the consumers’ needs.
The research objective of the IMKoN project is to develop tools and guidelines for an improved management of sustainability innovations by analyzing types, success factors and effects of the integration of employees as consumers (= buyers, users, disposers) into sustainability innovation processes.
In cooperation with corporate partners, sustainability innovation processes are initiated and analyzed by implementing specifically designed multi-day innovation workshops. Various research methods are employed, such as group discussions, interviews as well as a quantitative pre-post-employee survey to develop an in-depth understanding of the processes and barriers involved in employee-driven sustainability innovation.
Prof. Dr. Ulf Schrader, TU Berlin, FG Arbeitslehre/ Ökonomie und Nachhaltiger Konsum