Article scientifique

D. Galliano, A. Gonçalves & P. Triboulet
The peripheral systems of eco-innovation: Evidence from eco-innovative agro-food projects in a French rural area
Journal of Rural Studies, 2019, 72, 273-285.
A growing literature highlights the development of specific innovative patterns in peripheral areas and the need to better understand how and why firms can innovate despite the absence of agglomeration effects. These peripheral areas can, among other things, offer local resources (material and immaterial) for developing en- vironmental innovations. Thus, the aim of this article is to gain a more in-depth understanding of innovation processes in peripheral areas by analyzing the dynamics of utilization of local (i.e. place-based) and extra-local resources for the building and development of eco-innovative projects. We adopt an evolutionary framework inspired by the literature on eco-innovation and geography of innovation, which articulates internal organiza- tional factors and those external to eco-innovative organizations, including place-based factors. We use and enhance a mixed method borrowed from economic sociology that enables us to quantify the external resources utilized throughout the innovation process (nature, means of acquisition and location), through narrative analysis. We analyze five agro-food projects located in rural areas. Based on in-depth interviews, we identify 196 external resources that were utilized for developing these projects. We find that these projects are strongly embedded in their local environment and rely, to a large extent, on local resources and networks, which shows that, even in peripheral areas, the local context can be conducive to innovation. However, these eco-innovation processes are not confined to the local sphere; indeed, their stakeholders are able to tap into specific, more-distantly located resources and market opportunities, and do so increasingly as the projects develop. The results also point to the different roles of institutional and market actors in the acquisition of resources, according to their nature and location, and highlight the importance of institutional actors at the regional level.
Keywords : eco-innovation, rural areas, agro-food chains, personal networks, institutional actors, mixed method

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