Eco-Innovation Tools for the Early Stages: An Industry-Based Investigation of Tool Customisation and Introduction

  • Jamie O'Hare

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The challenge of transitioning to an environmentally sustainable system of production and consumption is both a major risk and a significant opportunity for companies involved in the design and manufacture of products. One approach that might assist companies in meeting this challenge is ‘eco-innovation’, which aims to deliver new products and processes that provide customer and business value but significantly decrease environmental impacts. The aim of the research was to understand how eco-innovation tools can be developed and introduced to a company such that they are adopted into the long-term practices of the company and contribute to the development of eco-innovative products. A ‘toolbox for eco-innovation’ was developed by adapting existing innovation tools for the purposes of eco-innovation. The initial toolbox was tested through in-house trials before subsequent trials in industry with a refined suite of tools. One-day workshops were held with six producers of electrical and electronic equipment. Four of these companies went on to participate in more in-depth tool introduction studies in which the tools were customised to the specific needs of the company and its design team. Formal tool feedback sessions and individual interviews with members of the design team were used to asses the effectiveness of the tool customisations. The organisational drivers and barriers for the long-term adoption of eco-innovation tools were also investigated. The contributions to knowledge of this research are: The development of a toolbox for eco-innovation.The validation of tool customisation as an approach to improving the introduction of eco-innovation tools.The definition of a generic process for tool introduction based on tool customisation which is appropriate for workshop-based design and innovation tools (including eco-innovation tools).Insights into the organisational drivers and barriers for the long-term adoption of eco-innovation tools.A model for the management of eco-innovation activities.
Date of Award1 Apr 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorElies Dekoninck (Supervisor) & Christopher McMahon (Supervisor)


  • Eco-design
  • sustainable design
  • eco-innovation
  • engineering tool
  • environmental
  • adaption

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