Beyond unsustainable eco-innovation: The role of narratives in the evolution of the lighting sector

Simone Franceschini*, Mario Pansera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

29 Citations (Scopus)


The discourse of Sustainable Development has reinvigorated the idea that technological innovations are inescapable to sustain economic development and simultaneously achieve environmental sustainability. In this paper, we propose a framework to describe six possible combinations of innovation and demand/consumption levels that constitute in turn six narratives of sustainability. We argue that the present global trend is set out for a dominant narrative, what we call 'Green Growth', which is rooted in the idea that economic growth - and thus technological change - is a prerequisite for environmental sustainability. By way of example, we use the case of the lighting industry to show that this narrative cannot assure an absolute reduction of the present levels of energy consumption. We therefore propose to embrace a different narrative of sustainability that encourages at the same time the development of eco-efficient technologies and the reduction of demand/consumption. This alternative narrative is linked to the development of the concept of '. useful light' and to a paradigm change in which the lighting sector is no longer framed around the electric bulb. This transition would require a new class of Lighting Service Companies (LISCO) and of new functional business models based on the sale of 'useful light'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-83
Number of pages15
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Eco-innovation
  • Green business models
  • Green growth
  • Lighting industry
  • Narratives analysis
  • Rebound effect
  • Sustainability

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