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Though concern for environmental issues dates back to the 1960s, research and practice in the field of sustainability innovation gained significant attention from academia, practitioners, and NGOs in the early 1990s, and has evolved rapidly to become mainstream. Organizations are changing their business practices so as to become more sustainable, in response to pressure from internal and external stakeholders. Sustainability innovation broadly relates to the creation of products, processes, technologies, capabilities, or even whole business models that require fewer resources to produce and consume, and also support the environment and communities, while simultaneously providing value to consumers and being financially rewarding for businesses. Sustainability innovation is a way of thinking about how to sustain a firm’s growth while sustainably managing depleting natural resources like raw materials, water, and energy, as well as preventing pollution and unethical business practices wherever the firm operates. Sustainability innovation represents a very diverse and dynamic area of scholarship contributing to a wide range of disciplines, including but not limited to general management, strategy, marketing, supply chain and operations management, accounting, and financial disciplines. As addressing sustainability is a complex undertaking, sustainability innovation strategies can be varied in nature and scope depending upon the firm’s capabilities. They may range from incremental green product introductions to radical innovations leading to changes in the way business is conducted while balancing all three pillars of sustainability—economic, environmental, and social outcomes. Sustainability innovation strategies often require deep structural transformations in organizations, supply chains, industry networks, and communities. Such transformations can be hard to implement and are sometimes resisted by those affected. Importantly, as sustainability concerns continue to increase globally, innovation provides a significant approach to managing the human, social, and economic dimensions of this profound society-wide transformation. Therefore, a thorough assessment of the current state of thinking in sustainability innovation research is a necessary starting point from which to improve society’s ability to achieve triple bottom line for current and future generations.

Article

Vinícius Chagas Brasil and J.P. Eggers

In competitive strategy, firms manage two primary (non-financial) portfolios—the product portfolio and the innovation portfolio. Portfolio management involves resource allocation to balance the important tradeoff of risk reduction and upside maximization, with important decisions around the evaluation, prioritization and selection of products and innovation projects. These two portfolios are interdependent in ways that create reinforcing dynamics—the innovation portfolio is the array of potential future products, while the product portfolio both informs innovation strategy and provides inputs to future innovation efforts. Additionally, portfolio management processes operate at two levels, which is reflected in the literature's structure. The first is a micro lens which focuses on management frameworks to boost portfolio performance and success through project-level selection tools. This research has its roots in financial portfolio management, relates closely to research on new product development and marketing product management, and explores the effects of portfolio management decisions on other organizational functions (e.g., operations). The second lens is a macro lens on portfolio management research, which considers the portfolio as a whole and integrates key organizational and competitive concepts such as entry timing, portfolio management resource allocation regimes (e.g., real options reasoning), organizational experience, and the culling of products and projects. This literature aims to set portfolio management as higher level organizational decision-making capability that embodies the growth strategy of the organization. The organizational ability to manage both the product and innovation portfolios connects portfolio management to key strategic organizational capabilities, including ambidexterity and dynamic capabilities, and operationalizes strategic flexibility. We therefore view portfolio management as a source of competitive advantage that supports organizational renewal.