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ISSN : 1598-7248 (Print)
ISSN : 2234-6473 (Online)
Industrial Engineering & Management Systems Vol.17 No.4 pp.677-687

Identifying and Prioritizing Factors of the Formation of Sustainable Innovation in the Textile Industry

Raviye Gholamzadeh, Khorshid Khajeh, Saeed Shavvalpour*, Majid Forouzanmehr
Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran
School of Progress Engineering, Iran University of Science and Technology
Technology Management, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran
* Corresponding Author, E-mail:
June 17, 2018 July 26, 2018 November 20, 2018


Considering the increasing expansion of industrial units nowadays and creating multiple problems for the environment and the community, it is essential to guide the industry toward innovation at production processes, service of management, manufacturing processes and business practices while maintaining the economic, social and environmental values. The main objective of this research is introducing the importance of sustainable innovation and development of the textile industry of the country, exploring solutions, identifying and prioritizing the factors affecting the development of sustainable innovation in this industry. This survey according to the purpose is operational, which is conducted based on literature review and field study. After collecting the factors involved in the emergence of sustainable innovation from the literature and interviews with experts and specialists; the contributing factors were adjusted in the form of six main components. In this research in order to test assumptions the Pearson correlation and SPSS software were used and in order to check the suitability of the model and the importance of each factor, the confirmatory factor analysis method and LISREL software were used. Therefore the influential factors according to their priorities are the government political interventions, awareness and social demands, social commitment of the industry, factors within the organization, development of technology and sustainability of the supply chain; also three sub-factors of: creating the networks and strategic alliances with suppliers and distributors, transparent and efficient mechanisms for tracking social demands and transforming them into rules and related regulations, and the increase of people’s tendency in textile products with natural and recyclable fibers, were known as the most important sub-criteria for the formation of sustainable innovation in this industry.



    Sustainable innovation is in fact the provision of technology, service or new composition that in addition to meet the needs and create value for customers and businesses; to minimize damage to the environment. In fact, sustainable innovation is a kind of innovation that provides social goals including human health, shareholder rights and environmental justice. Several important factors have posed this subject of attention. The first is that the world has faced significantly long-term challenges such as climate change, aging population, desertification, scarcity of water resources, pollution, scarcity and shortage of resources and raw materials (Montalvo and Kemp 2008). Second, the international economy has defined the rules of open competition. Policies that dictate the international competitiveness traditionally are changing rapidly. The researches have indicated that all approaches of predecessors for protecting the environment result in ignorance or exclude of certain economic activities and the process of cleaning techniques are also very expensive and since many of these strategies of protecting the environment have paid little attention to efficiency, therefore there was not a significant positive impact on the environment. Leading economies and newcomers to international markets (e.g. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea) not only have domination over competitiveness methods in reducing the costs but also have been innovative in parts of the traditional as well as the related hightechs (Montobbio et al., 2010). Companies and regions have sought to vary themselves through innovation, to become global leaders in commerce (Foray, 2009). Third, the financial crisis that began since 2008 showed how short-term profitability ideologies and related strategies, policies and practices of individuals and companies in this regard can be causes of the global economical, ecological and ethical crisis. Investigating the relationship between sustainable innovation and economic performance in recent years has had significant increase (Kesidou and Demirel, 2012;Aghion et al., 2009;Montalvo et al., 2011).

    The European Commission defines innovation ecology in production, simulation or operation of products, production processes, service management and new business practices, which over the expected life helps to prevent or reduce the risk of environmental pollution and other negative effects of the use of resources. Elsewhere European Commission related ecological innovation to sustainability and stated: “ecological innovation is one of the innovations that contribute in particular the progress towards the goal of sustainable development by reducing the negative effects on environment or more efficient use of natural resources, including energy resources.”

    Currently most activities in the field of sustainable innovation are carried out by OECD member countries. Thirty countries of world are members in order to confront the economic, social and environmental challenges resulted from globalization. OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States of America (OECD, 2011).


    Based on the definition of sustainable innovation by Carrillo-Hermosilla et al. (2010) sustainable innovation is a kind of innovation that enhances the stable performance and this performance is measured by environmental, economic and social indicators; because such indicators are changed as a result of transient atmosphere origins and cultural changes, therefore sustainable innovation will have different meanings and characteristics in different places. In general, sustainable and ecological innovation is generally beyond the typical products and process of innovation and the scope of their work are for future (Charter et al., 2008).

    In order to use the concept of sustainability in innovation of company, our discussion is focused on the creation of products, processes or services that are new and original and create economical values. In sustainable innovation, we are especially study innovative activities to examine the three components of the sustainable development together: taking advantage of the social, economic and environmental factors (Boersema and Bertels, 2010;McNeil, 2004;Qazani et al., 2018). Thus sustainable innovation can reasonably as product development, processes and new technologies help in developing and satisfying human needs and institutions in the world, while concern natural resources and renewable capacities. This definition based on a common definition of sustainable development that emphasizes the integration of social, economical and environmental factors and is with a sense of responsibility toward now and future generations (Contractor et al., 2010;Gerlach, 2003;McNeill, 2004).

    In order to achieve a successful sustainable innovation process, companies should have the required technical capacity (Baumol, 2002;Horbach et al., 2011;Russo and Fouts, 1997). Technology can be defined as all the knowledge, products, processes, tools, methods and systems that are used in the creation and production of goods and services. In another definition it can be defined as the application of science, human experience and skills in order to meet human needs (Siggel, 2000). Technology has a vital role in reducing the environmental issues and helping industrial enterprises to achieve environmental objectives (OECD, 2011). In fact, technologies are inspirations of innovation that are using for minor changes or modify and update existing products and processes (Horbach et al., 2011). Similarly, changes in technology are starting point of minor innovations for developing of the new products and processes (Kemp, 2000).

    Factors that would cause the company to refer to sustainable innovation trends are divided into two general categories of external and internal factors (Porter and Kramer, 2006). Internal factors that are affecting the approaches of company toward sustainable innovation are including employees and shareholders pressure, originality of organization and organizational management (Sharma, 2010) and the size of company as well as human resources and capabilities of the company.

    Textile industries have a crucial role in developed countries in the development of industry and a part of their success is due to the expansion of this industry in the early stages of industrialization. The Industrial Revolution began with the mechanization of textile manufacture. Due to the especial nature and characteristics of the textile industry, it provides the filed of growth for other industries as well. Textile industry is one of the chief sources of environmental pollution, the main problem in textile industry is water pollution, however, other pollutions such as air pollution is caused by the evaporation of organic chemicals and entrance of short fibers and etc as a result of mechanical operations in to the air of salons as well as noise pollution should not be ignored, but the chief pollution is production of wastewater that is in the first stage, water recycling and other deformed and neuter chemicals in the wastewater are of high importance and because some of them are non-biodegradable and sometimes their accumulation in natural and artificial water systems is problematic, are the subject of investigation. The textile companies therefore in order to move toward sustainability, need to look everything from a comprehensive perspective in order to understand the interplay between economic growth and environmental and social sustainability.

    Wüstenhagen and Bilharz (2006) in a study stated that companies for various reasons and with different expectations are committed to implement sustainable innovation. Some changes are to comply with environmental regulations that have been placed by the government. While a number of changes are to reduce their public criticism and social activism. Moreover it is pointed out that increasing of consumer demand for environmental- friendly products and advances in clean technologies also stimulate companies to develop sustainable products.

    Hayeri et al. (2017) in his study issued that there isn’t a certain way in order to achieve sustainable innovation for all companies in all situations. But in general, guidelines of companies to achieve sustainable development are based on principles that can be summarized as follows:

    • A) Have insurance that the company has realized what does society expect, then reinforce the values and create a spirit of continuous improvement (attitude)

    • B) Development of tools and methods to improve the social, environmental and economical performance and combining these tools with business processes (creating capacity for operations)

    • C) Evaluating the performance of the organization in order to ensure that performance of company was according to the targets (Review the progress line).

    Tello and Yoon (2008) have divided these stimulants in five major categories on the basis of the results that have gained about stimulants of sustainable innovation from previous studies, including customer demand, the CSR practices (social responsibility of cooperation), government intervention, social activities and progress and efficient technological development.

    Popovici (2017) in a study stated that the classification of the success factors to achieve sustainable innovation with eco-friendly is an important aspect that needs to be considered by organizations in strategic decisions related to their company. In this study, factors such as market knowledge, cross-functional collaboration, integration mechanism of knowledge and productive learning and petting guidance through literature review, were introduced as critical components in successfully achieving sustainable innovation.

    Foroughi et al. (2012) in their study aimed to find stimulus of ecological innovations. Three essential components that were identified in this study were the stimulus of the supplier side, demand side stimulus and stimulus related to regulations and policies each of these components consists of factors. Stimulus of the supply side are including research and development activities, save in costs, improve efficiency, systems of environmental management, communication and networking, the companies adherence to its commitment toward society, corporation image and brand, pressure from the supply chain, company size, financial incentives, advanced technology. Demand-side stimulus are including customer demand and amount of customers’ awareness and pressure, increase of market share and competition. Stimulus related to laws and policies are including the implementation of environmental policies, environmental legislation, and set strict and flexible regulations. The results of this study indicated that this company emphasize more supply-side stimulus and laws and policies over stimulus of demand and the first two named stimulus play more important roles.

    Another study has been taken place by Liddle and El-Kafafi (2010) abroad. This study seeks to identify the stimulus of innovation in the paradigm of sustainable innovation. In this research the stimuli of companies in the New Zealand have been detected and divided into four groups; including market pull and technology push, regulation, funding and national system of innovation. In a study examined the stimulus of innovation and the development of green technologies with a case study on water purification systems. The results of this study indicated that the key stimuli for accessing the clean technologies are such laws and regulations pressure, market pull, organization strategy and stimulus of technology. In another study Horbach et al. (2011) examined the factors influencing the adoptable innovations with ecosystem and the role of push / pull laws and regulations, technology push and market pull. The study concluded that the frugality of costs first is an important incentive to reduce energy consumption and reduce the use of materials and moving toward innovations which are ecological. On the other hand government regulations are to reduce greenhouse gases and issues such as taxation is also included to them. The needs of our customers are considered as an important stimulus of environmental innovation and reducing energy consumption and waste, and reducing the use of hazardous substances. Wheeler and Elkington, (2001) in a study stated that companies for various reasons and with different expectations are committed to implement sustainable innovation. Some changes to comply with environmental regulations that have been placed by the government. While a number of changes are to reduce their public criticism and social activism. Moreover they have pointed out that increasing of consumer demand for ecological products and advances in clean technologies also stimulate companies to develop sustainable products.

    Tello and Yoon (2008) in a study examined the sti-mulus of innovation in the field of sustainable innovations. Based on the results of previous studies they classified these stimulus of sustainable innovation into five major categories, including customer demand, CSR actions (Cooperate Social Responsibility), government intervention, social activities and the development of efficient technologies. They identified the success factors of sustainable innovation. He classified the tools and incentives that have been identified for the development of sustainable innovation into seven general groups of society’s politics, technology, environment, companies demand and suppliers. In this study, some of the stimulus that have a greater impact on the formation of sustainable innovation was introduced as incentives, demand, marketing, skills of company (internal), investment value, confidence, risk of investment, exports value, the success rate of market, the product excellence, the perception of common people of the product and company, the volume of investment and return on investment, the stability or instability of available supply systems, the compatibility with the existing infrastructure, pilot projects, the attractiveness of al-ternative products existence of suppliers / supply network, the prize of competition with unstable products, existence of the environmental standard, financial participation of public and private sector toward innovation, public and private partnerships for building infrastructures, trade and transport costs, the integration of manufacturing systems, the customer knowledge about the benefits of the product, the availability of inputs (raw materials), new competitors (foreign / import), environmental problems, in possession of information, the barriers to entry to the market, environmental knowledge / attitudes (among common), the foreign dependency, political pressure to solve sustainability issues and the amount of subsidies allocated.


    The main objective of this paper is to identify and prioritize factors of the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry, therefore the present study is a descriptive-correlation study. The collected data in this study also contains literature review and field studies of documents and questionnaire. The research instrument was a closed questionnaire with Likert scale of 5 options. Cronbach’s alpha was used to assess the reliability that Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was (0.859), which is indicator of the reliability of the questionnaire.

    The validity of the questionnaire after that the initial questionnaire was designed, was examined by the opinions of several managers of textile companies. According to these proceedings the questionnaire had acceptable validity and content. In order to analyze the collected data by using questionnaires of research, the statistical methods in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics were used. In descriptive statistics the demographic variables’ including age, education and so on were examined and in inferential statistics the reliability of the questionnaire by Cronbach’s alpha was tested, Kolmogorov-Smirnov test also was used to examine the normality of the data and the Pearson correlation test was used to test the hypothesis. Also in the statistical analysis in order to identify and rank the components of the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry, the structural equation modeling and confirmatory factor analysis were used.

    We drew our research model after determining fac-tors in the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry, according to a literature review and research background and taking into account the views of the elite, while classifying them (Figure 1). Based on this the hypotheses are also given Table 1.


    • 1) There is a significant positive relationship between the social commitment of industry and the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry.

    • 2) There is a significant positive relationship be-tween the political intervention of government and the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry.

    • 3) There is a significant positive relationship between awareness and social demand and formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry.

    • 4) There is a significant positive relationship between the advancement of technology and the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry.

    • 5) There is a significant positive relationship between the factors within the organization and formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry.

    • 6) There is a significant positive relationship between the stability of the supply chain and the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry.


    The population of this research included experts in the textile industry who are familiar with the forms of innovation in this industry. Accordingly experts in this study were selected based on the following indicators:

    • A) people with working experience in the areas of research, development and innovation in the textile industry

    • B) Experts in the field of innovation (especially sustainable innovation) experienced in management, administration and operation in the textile industry. A total of 50 active companies and with a history of innovation in the textile industry of the country were identified. The populations of study were among these 50 active companies, specialists and experts with the named features. Among the total of 550 people 225 people were selected randomly by using Cochran equation.


    In this section the age distribution of respondents to the survey questionnaires are checked. The number of people aged 20 to 30 years were 38 people, 79 people were between 31 and 40 years, the number of people between 41 and 50 years were 74, 36 people were above 50 years. The number of people with high school diplomas and diploma and graduate were 2 people, 26 people had BS, 135 people were postgraduate and 62 people were PHD. The numbers of people with education in technology management were 20, Industrial Engineering were 49, Industrial Management were 37, and 101 people were with textile engineering and other fields were of about 18 people. Number of professionals / technicians were 46 people, Chief of Department / senior technicians were 63 people, the General Director / Director of Operations were 79, CEO / general manager were of 24 people and others were13 people. The number of people that have work experience less than 2 years were 29 case, 3 to 5 year 42 case, between 6 and 10 years 79 case and between 11 to 20 years, 48 case and above 20 years were 27 case.


    In this section we will examine the hypotheses using correlation test. In order to investigate the relationship between each of the components of the formation of sustainable innovation in the industry the Pearson correlation coefficient is used.

    Due to the fact that in this study, statistical software SPSS was used as well as the fact that this software after calculating the Pearson correlation coefficient, provides the significant level, so if in the results the significance level were greater than 5% this hypothesis was accepted that there is a significant relationship between the dimensions of formation of sustainable innovation in industry. If the significance level were more than 5% the null hypotheses is accepted and indicates lack of any relationship between the variables. In this section the hypotheses of study will be analyzed and examined. The Tables 3 and 4 summarizes the test of assumptions.


    At this point it is necessary to ensure the accuracy of measurement models. In the models for measuring this component is stated that this has to be done by structural equation modeling as shown in Figure 2. The abbreviations which are used in study model are indicated in Table 2.


    In the software LISREL in addition to estimate coefficients and errors of model, indicators are obtained that based on them the overall fitting of the model can be tested. The significance tests of model and determining the confirmed routes based on structural equation model is presented in Figure 3. Hayeri et al. (2017) have emphasized on three basic criteria of absolute fitting model. The possibility ratio of (x2 / df), goodness of fit index (GFI) and root mean of square error (RMSEA). Indicators in this study are presented in Table 5. As it is clear most of indicators are more than the standard limit the extent that represented the research model in terms of model fitting, as the best model.

    - Ranking of Factors

    According to statistical analysis and loadings obtained from each component, prioritizing the factors is as follows:

    Prioritizing in the previous table is based on the maximum amount of impact of factors on the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry so that political interventions is in the first place, awareness and social demand ranks second, industrial social commitment is third, inter-organizational factors rating fourth, and technological advances is fifth.

    Now, if the ranking was done, the details of each structural factors is to be considered, due to the load factor of them, the final model will be displayed prioritizing from the top to bottom as follows:


    With toting the accuracy of the ranking factors, the importance of political interventions of government in sustainable innovation in the textile industry will be determined. In fact, we faced an important factor in this field study on an examination of the formation of sustainable innovation in the industry that has always the top priority in studies. Then the awareness and social demand has the next rank. This represents that population awareness and demand for ecological products and social and popular demands has significant and important impact on the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry of the country. The third important factor is the industrial social commitment. In fact, the adherence of industry to its commitment toward society and the formation of competition among companies in the field of customer respect and protect the rights population is the third factor in the formation of sustainable innovation in industry. In fourth place there are influential inter-organization factors; which can have an important and decisive role in the formation of sustainable innovation in this industry. Other factors including technological advances and sustainability of supply chain are in fifth and sixth place, in terms of importance and influence of them in the formation of sustainable innovation in the textile industry.



    The research model.


    Estimation of model and the coefficients of available routes among available variables included in them.


    The significance tests of model and determining the confirmed routes based on structural equation model.


    Summary of test of the hypothesis

    Measures of model fitting

    Test of the assumptions by the application of the model

    Abbreviations of research indicators

    Ranking of influential factors


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