FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTION AND CONCLUSIONS
The primary focus of this chapter was on the theory and concepts of sustainability, how they can be applied to a business, and why they important to innovation and vice-versa. Sustainability as
sessment methods such as LCA and LCCA were discussed to a great length. These methods are useful when a business is evaluating alternative products or processes at the planning and design stages. They may also be used during the operation stage if a business is considering switching to an alternative raw material. In addition the role of management, social network analysis, and the influences of an individual’s mental model on diffusion and adoption of innovation were also explored.
While this chapter provides some insights into the relationship between sustainability and innovation, there is still a need for more research into the area. One area of interest is the mental models of individuals in the diffusion and adoption of sustainable innovations. When does an individual decide to adopt a product that was produced in a sustainable manner? Individuals/ consumers to a large extent drive the market. If all individuals are educated in the concepts and theories sustainability as is the case in higher educational institutions where there are courses such as “Green Engineering”, “Green Design”, “Sustainable World”, etc, how would these impact businesses? Will there competition? Will business innovate till they can’t innovate anymore? When will this plateau be reached?
Social networks are critical to the diffusion and adoption of new knowledge/innovations. Given the above scenario, what would be the role of social networks, specifically in the diffusion and adoption of sustainable innovations to different social, political, and cultural demographics? These scenarios need to be further explored to gauge the true relationship between sustainability and innovation in the short - and long-term and across different socio-cultural and political boundaries.