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Necessity as the mother of ‘green’ inventions: Institutional pressures and environmental innovations


Correspondence to: Andrea Fosfuri, Bocconi University, Department of Management and Technology, Via Roentgen 1, 20136 Milano, Italy. E-mail:


Drawing on institutional theory and innovation literature, we argue that greater regulatory and normative pressures concerning environmental issues positively influence companies' propensity to engage in environmental innovation. Analysis of environment-related patents of 326 publicly traded firms from polluting industries in the United States suggests that institutional pressures can trigger such innovation, especially in those firms displaying a greater deficiency gap (i.e., firms polluting relatively more than their industry peers). Moreover, we find that this effect is stronger when asset specificity is high, and that the availability of resources plays different roles depending on the type of pressures (regulatory vs. normative).Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.