This course should have prompted some reflections on your thinking and ideas about organisations, environmental management and innovation. Perhaps most importantly, you should have had an opportunity to further your understanding of why innovation is seen as key to environmental management, and to develop a critical view of the terms innovation and eco-innovation. This will help you begin to assess a range of environmental claims that an organisation may make concerning its operations and practices. This is not to say those claims are invalid, but you need to be aware of how innovation is being used – as well as when and why – in relation to environmental management.
As you have seen, innovation can be defined as incremental, disruptive and radical. The emphasis on eco-innovation, to signify the environmental aspects of a particular innovation, has also prompted thinking about the scale of the innovation from component to subsystem to system level, eventually leading to transformation of the system – expressed as, for example, more sustainable cities, societies or economies. You’ve also begun to explore that what is considered ‘innovative’ is dependent on who is making the judgement, from what perspective, over what timescale and at what point in time. In other words, innovation is a relative term. Yesterday’s innovation may be today’s environmental disaster. An innovation adopted by an organisation today might be commonplace for another organisation that has been benefiting from it for several years. But above all, innovation is dependent on one’s perspective.
This course has also given you the opportunity to explore innovative ways of thinking about connections between organisations, environmental management and innovation. While notions of impacts are important, attempts such as ecosystem services and notions of the circular economy are trying to explore system-level understanding of connections. Equally the idea of a coupled system offers a more innovative and dynamic way of conceptualising the inter-connected aspects of human–environment relations.