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Benchmarking green innovation

: Walz, Rainer; Eichhammer, Wolfgang


Mineral economics 24 (2012), Nr.2-3, S.79-101
ISSN: 2191-2203
ISSN: 2191-2211
Fraunhofer ISI ()
green technology; newly industrializing country; absorptive capacity; Patent; export pattern; innovation policy

Competences for green technologies in Newly Industrializing Countries (NICs) are becoming increasingly urgent from a global perspective. We define NIC as countries which undergo rapid economic growth with a corresponding change in economic structure from mostly agricultural societies to a society dominated by the industrial sector and increasing services. Green technologies open up opportunities for reducing emissions; the prospect of exporting them can provide incentives for NICs to develop them as key technologies for their economies. In addition, this could trigger further demand for green technologies in both low-income economies and traditional member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In order to assess the challenges associated with this, a benchmarking exercise is performed and its benefits and limitations discussed. From a conceptual point of view, technological benchmarking of green technologies (sustainability benchmarking) can be distinguished from capability benchmarking. For both types of benchmarking, a top-down perspective (overall level of the economy) and a sectoral bottom-up perspective (focusing on the important field of industrial energy efficiency technologies) is taken. Traditional OECD countries and Newly Industrializing Countries are benchmarked in this process, complemented with a look, in selected cases, to low-income economies. We focus on energy-related green technologies though a broader view occurs also on other green technologies like material efficiency or water efficiency. The empirical analysis shows a wide range of results. From a top-down view, it can be seen that some NICs have been catching up and are in the same benchmark clusters as a variety of traditional OECD countries. In the more detailed bottom-up view, this trend is also starting for industrial energy efficiency technologies; however it is not as pronounced yet, as on the more aggregated level of all green technologies. The comparisons between capability benchmarking and sustainability benchmarking show some parallels, but also differences. By and large, countries with a higher capability are also receiving a higher evaluation with regard to sustainability benchmarking. However, the variations within each capability cluster and group also show that other factors are important. Looking into these factors and their role for explaining the differences and dynamics for green innovation, provides room for further research.