Innovation-Oriented Environmental Regulation: Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Analysis

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Pekovic, S. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Please share your general feedback. You can start or join in a discussion here. Visit emeraldpublishing. Abstract Purpose The purpose of this study is to develop a better theoretical and empirical understanding of the causal and contextual mechanisms explaining the relationship between customer orientation and business performance. Findings By using a moderated mediation approach, it was found that the mediating effect of environmental customer innovation on the relationship between customer orientation and business performance under different contextual factors market environment, firm size and sector of activity can be significantly stronger or weaker.

Practical implications According to the results, to achieve market success and sustain a competitive advantage, managers must simultaneously invest in customer orientation and innovation performance. Please note you might not have access to this content. You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account. If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form. Contact us.

Innovation-Oriented Environmental Regulation

Moreover, improvements in environmental regulation intensity enhance regional innovation performance through the innovation compensation effect. Our results show that the local governments tend to choose lower environmental regulation intensity to compete for more FDI, which has an inhibitory effect on regional innovation performance. Furthermore, due to regional differences in factor endowments, economic reforms and economic development levels in Chinese provinces, there exists a significant regional consistency in the impact of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance.

Therefore, institutional arrangements and incentive constraints must be adopted to enhance regional innovation performance as well as to guide and foster the mechanism of green innovation competition among local governments. National innovation system is an innovation network which is organically combined with the regional innovation system within a country, and research on innovation performance remains a fundamental area of economic analysis [ 1 ].

Within the overall framework of the national innovation system, the regional innovation system must consider the intensity of regional environmental regulation when organizing and competing innovation factors for innovative production. Therefore, how to improve the performance of regional innovation by organizing innovation factors under the condition of environmental constraints is a topic worthy of in-depth study.

Due to environmental and resource constraints coupled with the decline of demographic dividend, the drawbacks and unsustainability of the factor input-driven growth model are increasingly evident. In the process of regional innovation in China, the role of local governments has become the most important factor in the regional innovation system. Local governments influence regional innovation performance by competing for external innovation factors and choosing environmental regulation intensity. Chinese economic structural transition and steady transition of growth motivation in the new era is based on the principle of innovation-driven green development.

The local governments should not only organize innovative elements within the region, but also actively compete for all possible innovative elements outside the region for innovative production and insist on green development. The essence of environmental regulation is to maintain the non-decreasing level of ecological capital stock [ 2 ].

Therefore, it is of great significance to study the impact of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance.


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Compared to the existing research, the contribution of this paper is mainly reflected in the following two points: firstly, constructing a stepwise regression model to examine the impact of local government competition on regional innovation performance and environmental regulation intensity, and further analyzing the intermediary effect of local government competition on regional innovation performance through environmental regulation intensity; secondly, in the framework of empirical analysis, the interaction item of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity is included to test the impact of the synergy of both variables on regional innovation performance.

The structure of this paper is as follows: after the introduction, the second part consists of literature reviews aiming to clarify the research context in this field; the third part presents the theoretical analysis framework aiming to analyze the mechanism of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance; the fourth part shows details of variables, data and empirical strategies; the fifth part comprises of empirical analyses and discussion of results; the sixth part presents the conclusion and policy recommendations of this paper.

In the regional innovation system, local governments are important actors. They not only organize innovative factors in the region to carry out innovative production, but also compete actively for all possible innovative factors outside the region to participate in innovative production in the jurisdiction. Therefore, the impact of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance is complex.

To address this intricate subject, the review of existing literature has been classified into different sections. The institutional arrangement of Chinese-style decentralization fosters yardstick competition among local governments through political and economic incentives [ 3 ]. Local government focuses on attracting liquidity factors in a fierce competition to attract capital, labor and other factors to serve regional development as much as possible [ 4 ].

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Foreign Direct Investment FDI has a positive impact on the innovation efficiency of the host country because of its technology spillover [ 6 , 7 ]. Hu and Jefferson [ 9 ] also verify that FDI has a positive effect on the number of regional patent applications. Wang and Zhang [ 11 ] examined the heterogeneity of the impact of FDI and official cooperation of industries on regional innovation output; the authors found that FDI has a significant effect on the output of new products, but not on the output of patents.

In the background of innovation-driven development strategic, fiscal decentralization reform encourages local governments to increase their support for technological innovation, as competition for innovation can significantly promote the efficiency of technological innovation [ 12 ]. In the context of local government competition, there are also competing attributes of environmental regulation in different regions because of cross-regional capital competition and cross-border pollution.

The low-income countries tend to have lower environmental regulation intensity in order to attract foreign investment [ 13 , 14 ]. In view of the impact of local government competition on the environmental regulation intensity under Chinese decentralization, He et al. Wang et al.

The game of environmental policy among local governments has the characteristics of the long-term competition. Through empirical research based on data from prefecture-level cities, Zhu et al. Government environmental regulation aims at maintaining non-reduction of environmental policy. Liu and Yan [ 21 ] found that environmental regulation has a significant positive impact on invention patents and utility model patents, and there is a lag in this impact, but the impact on design patents is not significant.

Furthermore, there are significant regional differences in the impact of environmental regulation on regional innovation. Qi and Tao [ 25 ] used the GWR model to explore the impact of factor agglomeration on regional innovation capability under environmental constraints. They found that environmental regulation has a dual impact on regional innovation capability.

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To summarize, many scholars have explored the relationship between local government competition, environmental regulation intensity and regional innovation performance from multiple perspectives, which provides theoretical reference and logical starting point for this study. However, through reviewing the literature, it is clear that there is nothing that incorporates local government competition, environmental regulation intensity and regional innovation performance into a systematic analysis framework, and this association and its impact needs further investigation.

This paper makes an empirical study with comprehensive FGLS based on the panel data of Chinese provinces from to , in order to make the conclusion more authentic and reliable. According to the theory of national innovation system, this system is an organic combination of a regional innovation system.

It includes not only the innovation production activities of the main bodies in a regional innovation system, but also the competition relationship among regional innovation systems [ 26 ]. Therefore, within the overall framework of the national innovation system, only by considering the competition relationship between innovators and the environmental regulation policy in the regional innovation system, can we reveal the organizational mode of the elements of the regional innovation system in a more comprehensive way, then provide useful reference for improving regional innovation performance and national innovation performance level [ 27 ].

This section will systematically elaborate the mechanism of the impact of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance. Based on the analysis of the existing literature and the actual situation, local government competition for FDI has a dual effect on regional innovation performance. Firstly, we realize the promotion effect. In the regional innovation system, local governments compete for FDI to participate in innovative production, which can not only make up for the shortage of funds in the regional innovation system, increase the input of elements in the regional innovation system, but also activate the existing resources and stock, have a positive effect on the regional innovation performance.

Additionally, the competitive FDI of local governments often has the advantages of technology and management, which is an important carrier of technology spillover. Through demonstration-imitation effect, competition effect, linkage effect and personnel training and mobility effect of transnational corporations, regional technological level and organizational efficiency are constantly improved [ 28 ]. Secondly, we notice the restraint effect. Additionally, in order to maintain its competitive advantage, FDI often suppresses local competitors and blockades technology spillover by setting barriers, which has a restraining effect on the improvement of regional innovation performance.

In order to gain competitive advantage in the process of competition for foreign direct investment, local governments often adopt fiscal compensation as tax incentives, even regard environmental policy as an important means of competition. When the surrounding areas reduce environmental standards and regulatory levels in order to attract FDI, the region will adopt similar competitive strategies to attract more investment from polluting enterprises by reducing the level of environmental regulation.

Therefore, local government competition has a restraining effect on the intensity of environmental regulation.


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On the one hand, higher intensity of environmental regulation will increase the cost of pollution control of enterprises, but under the condition of fixed total resources, increasing investment in environmental governance will inevitably lead to the reduction of innovation investment, and the enhancement of intensity of environmental regulation will inhibit the improvement of regional innovation performance; On the other hand, the intensity of strict environmental regulation will lead to the withdrawal of enterprises, the re-allocation of production and investment in areas with low regulation level, and the reduction of local investment and share of innovation investment, which will affect regional innovation performance.

To sum up, the impact of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance is twofold. In order to better identify the mechanism of impact, we draw the theoretical framework in Figure 1. The specific impact effects shown in this framework will be empirically examined through empirical models. The influence mechanism of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional Innovation performance.

The number of patent authorizations is usually selected to evaluate regional innovation performance in existing literature. The patent data is easy to obtain but it is controversial because it cannot measure the quality of innovation output and the level of market application. Therefore, some scholars began to use sales revenue of new products as the proxy variable of innovation performance [ 29 ]. Suppose there are k decision-making units, i.

It can be observed that the basics of regional innovation performance evaluation are to determine the input of regional innovation factors and the output of innovative products. The output of innovative products is estimated by two indicators: the number of patents authorized by each region and the turnover of new technology market in the sample period. Among them, the number of patents authorized represents the effective output of regional innovative products. Whereas, the technology market turnover represents the transformation and marketization of innovative products.

This study uses the data of 30 provinces and the Tibet is excluded due to data unavailability. Figure 2 reports the average value of regional innovation performance in the period of investigation; in which crste is the average value without considering the measurement of returns to scale, and vrste is the average value with regard to the measurement of return on scale. In our empirical analyses, the vrste index is used. The local governments compete as much as possible for innovation factors outside the region to participate in innovation activities in the regional innovation system.

The dominant strategy of attracting FDI has become the concentrated reflection of local government competition. Therefore, this paper uses the logarithmic value of regional per capita actual utilization of FDI to calculate local government competition; the greater the actual amount of FDI per capita in a region, the stronger the competitiveness of local governments in the region. The data is taken from China Statistical Yearbook. The second main variable is the environmental regulation intensity er. There are many methods to calculate the intensity of environmental regulation: firstly, evaluating the policy quantity of environmental regulation.

Secondly, assessment based on contaminated income finally, the ratio of expenditure on pollution treatment and control to production cost or GDP is used to evaluate the proxy. In this paper, the evaluation of environmental regulation intensity focuses on investment in environmental pollution control, selecting the ratio of total investment in regional environmental pollution control to GDP to measure regional environmental regulation intensity. The data is collected from China Environmental Statistics Yearbook. In order to accurately reveal the impact of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance and obtain more robust estimation results, other relevant factors affecting regional innovation performance must be controlled as far as possible.

Referring to the existing research literature, this paper chooses government intervention, non-agricultural industry development, urbanization rate, financial development, human capital stock level and the degree of opening as control variables. The specific definitions are shown in Table 1. The data are collected from China Statistical Yearbook, China Population Employment Statistics Yearbook and the statistical yearbooks of all provinces autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government from to Considering the problem of heteroscedasticity and correlation in ordinary least squares OLS , in this paper, the feasible generalized least squares method FGLS is used.

It is based on the effective transformation of generalized least squares GLS [ 33 ]. Secondly, the OLS estimation of 2 is carried out, and the estimated value is given in Equation 3 :. Generally, the estimated value can reach the expected accuracy in repeated iterations. Based on the above analysis, this paper attempts to make an empirical study on the relationship between local government competition and environmental regulation intensity affecting regional innovation performance.

In order to test the mediating effect of environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance, a stepwise regression model was designed based on existing research [ 34 ]. At first, in order to test the impact of local government competition on regional innovation performance without considering the intensity of environmental regulation and other factors affecting regional innovation performance, this paper sets the following model shown in Equation 7 :.

It is assumed that white noise sequence is obeyed; c 0 and c 1 is the parameter to be estimated. Secondly, in order to examine the indirect effect of environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance in local government competition, it is divided into two steps to construct the following two models, formulas are given in Equation 8 and 9 :. Among them, Model 2 takes the intensity of environmental regulation as the explanatory variable, local government competition as explanatory variable, to test the impact of local government competition on the intensity of environmental regulation.

Model 3 takes regional innovation performance as the explanatory variable, local government competition, environmental regulation intensity and their interaction terms are the core explanatory variables to test the direct and indirect effects of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance.

Finally, in order to accurately test the impact of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance, other factors affecting regional innovation performance must be controlled as far as possible. Referring to the existing research and control variable design, model 4 is constructed:. Here, X i j t is a set of control variables, the specific settings are shown in Table 1. According to the description of the empirical strategies mentioned above, the FGLS is selected to estimate model 1 to 4.


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The estimated results are shown in Table 2. The results of model 1 show that the coefficient of influence of local government competition on regional innovation performance is 0. This indicates that local government competition can significantly improve regional innovation performance. On the one hand, local governments compete for FDI to participate in regional innovation production, which makes up for the shortage of funds for the operation of the regional innovation system, stimulates innovation activities of various innovators, and improves the performance of regional innovation.

Industrial Innovation and Environmental Regulation: Developing Workable Solutions

On the other hand, local governments compete for FDI which produces technology spillovers in investment areas because of its comparative advantages in technology and management. Similarly, local innovators improve regional innovation performance through learning. The possible reason is that local governments compete for growth under the Chinese decentralization system; they not only organize economic factors within their jurisdiction to pursue economic growth, but also actively compete for all possible economic factors to serve the economic growth of their jurisdiction. Therefore, local governments tend to choose lower environmental regulation intensity in order to attract more FDI.

In order to test whether local government competition can influence regional innovation performance through the intensity of environmental regulation, model 3 is estimated. The results show that the competition of local governments and the intensity of environmental regulation have positive effects on improving regional innovation performance. The environmental regulation will produce innovation compensation effect and innovation investment will also increase with the enhancement of environmental regulation intensity.

The estimated coefficient of the interactive term between local government competition and environmental regulation intensity is significantly negative, which indicates that local government competition has a negative impact on regional innovation performance through the choice of environmental regulation intensity. This conclusion needs to be further validated to consider the influential variables. On the basis of model 3, the model 4 incorporates six control variables: government intervention gov , non-agricultural industry development fn , urbanization rate urb , financial development fis , human capital stock hum and openness to the outside world ope.

The results display that the coefficients of local government competition, environmental regulation intensity and their interaction are identical with model 3 and statistically significant. This confirms that the local government competition and environmental regulation intensity can significantly improve regional innovation performance, and local government competition will inhibit regional innovation performance by choosing the intensity of environmental regulation.

In terms of control variables, the estimation coefficient of government intervention on regional innovation performance is significantly positive, that is, the government organizes regional innovation factors to carry out innovative production and improve regional innovation performance. The effect of non-agricultural industry development on regional innovation performance is significantly negative, indicating that non-agricultural industry development has a significant inhibition effect on the improvement of regional innovation performance.

However, the promotion of regional innovation performance is not to choose to inhibit non-agricultural industries, but to promote the transformation of innovation achievements through the development of non-agricultural industries, and to enhance the level of commercialization of innovation achievements.

The impact coefficient of urbanization on regional innovation performance is positive, but it has no statistical significance. The impact of financial development on regional innovation performance is significantly positive, showing that the regional financial development can significantly improve regional innovation performance. The impact of human capital stock level on regional innovation performance is significantly negative, indicating that the stock of human capital does not improve the performance of regional innovation.

The possible reason is that human capital allocation is distorted, and human resource dividend cannot be released.

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Likewise, opening to the outside world has a significantly positive effect on regional innovation performance through technology spillovers. The results of benchmark estimation may be unstable because of the selection bias of interpreted and interpreted variables. Thus, in order to test the robustness of model settings and benchmark estimates, the four models are estimated by replacing the interpreted variables and the core explanatory variables. Table 3 reports the estimated results of replacing the interpreted variables and interpreted variables select the logarithmic value of new technology market turnover.

This index reflects the marketization level of innovation achievements and it can represent regional innovation performance. Table 4 reports the estimated results of the replacement of core explanatory variables indicating that the proportion of the actual utilization of FDI in provinces to the actual utilization of FDI in the whole country is used as the agent variable of local government competition. The higher the ratio represents the stronger the competitiveness of local governments.

As can be perceived from Table 3 and Table 4 , after transforming the interpreted variables and the core explanatory variables, the estimated coefficient symbols of model 1 to 4 are identical with the baseline regression, but the level of significance is different. The results show that the benchmark estimation results are robust to some extent.

Considering the regional differences of factor endowment, economic reform and economic development level in Chinese provinces and regions, this study further tests the regional heterogeneity of the impact of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance. Referring to the classification method of the mainstream literature, this paper divides the whole sample into three sub-samples: the eastern part, the central part and the western part. Tibet is not included in the western region analyses because of the lack of data.

Table 5 reports the estimated results of sub-regional sample models 3 and 4. The improvement of environmental regulation intensity also has a significant positive impact on regional innovation performance, while the interaction between local government competition and environmental regulation has a significant, negative impact on regional innovation performance. It shows that local government competition has a restraining effect on regional innovation performance through the choice of environmental regulation intensity, which is completely consistent with the estimated results of the national sample.

Local governments in central China compete for FDI, which has a crowding-out effect on regional innovation capability, without effective innovation compensation. Which makes it difficult for FDI technology to spillover, and the regional innovation performance cannot be effectively improved. The intensity of environmental regulation also inhibits the improvement of regional innovation performance in the central region; the possible reason is that local governments will choose a lower intensity of environmental regulation for innovation and economic growth.

The interaction between local government competition and environmental regulation intensity has a significant, positive impact on regional innovation performance, indicating that local government competition will improve the regional innovation performance of the central region by choosing the intensity of environmental regulation. From the estimated results of the western samples, the estimated coefficients of local government competition are significantly different between model 3 and 4 showing that the impact of local government competition on regional innovation performance in the western region is inconsistent.

Additionally, the intensity of environmental regulation can significantly improve the regional innovation performance of the western region. However, the interaction between local government competition and environmental regulation intensity has a significant, negative impact on regional innovation performance, which is consistent with the estimates of Eastern China. To summarize, the impact of local government competition and environmental regulation intensity on regional innovation performance has significant regional heterogeneity characteristics.