Industrial Networks for Sustainability - practice-oriented concept

The goal of the project is to develop a concept for implementing industrial sustainability networks, taking value chain and recycling-oriented networks as starting points.


Programme „Factory of the Future“, Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT)  




Institute for Innovation and Environmental Management, University of Graz (Project coordination),
Mag. Dirk Raith, free-lance sociologist

Conventional value chain ("type A") networks, i.e. enterprises co-operating along the value chain, usually pursue only economic goals. The extension towards sustainability networks implies, that co-operation shall include ecological and social topics, such as e.g. service-oriented product development.
Recycling-oriented ("type B") networks and their bi-lateral co-operation between the network enterprises already have an ecological orientation. Since these co-operations usually restrict themselves to inter-company recycling, further activities towards sustainability are desirable.

On the basis of conventional value chain and recycling-oriented networks a concept was developed for the implementation of industrial sustainability networks. An industrial sustainability network is defined as a system of voluntary, but organised co-operation between different stakeholders (e.g. enterprises) with the common goal of a sustainable development of the society within a certain region. It forms thus the organisational framework for the implementation of a multiplicity of network activities refering to as well as ecological, economical and social aspects of sustainable development.

A manual with recommendations, how to implement the concept of industrial sustainability network was developed. This manual is based on theoretical background work, an empirical survey by questionnaire asking enterprises for their inter-company environmental activities, an empirical analysis of already existing value chain and recycling-oriented networks and workshop contributions of experts from administration, research and companies.

Research Topic