Seminar: Sustainability-oriented innovation in the minerals industry: An empirical study on the effect of non-geographical proximity dimensions


Mineral companies face the increasing demand for a comprehensive approach towards innovations aimed at sustainability. While the ability to learn from external sources of knowledge is at the core of this process, lack of geographical proximity and multiplicity of external sources impose challenges for mineral companies in this respect. The present study proposes that organizational, institutional and cognitive proximities could provide a platform for this industry to overcome those challenges, thereby achieving a superior innovation performance across various sustainability dimensions. Results of an analysis based on a sample of 101 mineral companies in Norway reveal that these dimensions of proximity conduce to process, product and social innovation performance in different ways. More specifically, organizational proximity (measured by diversity of non-local collaborations) and informal institutional proximity (measured by shared cultural norms and values) has been found to improve social innovation performance. Furthermore, formal institutional proximity (similarity of rules and laws) and cognitive proximity (familiarity of knowledge base) support both process and product innovations. This paper provides valuable insights on the determinants of innovation in sustainability contexts, and contributes to the recent debate on the role of non-spatial proximity dimensions for innovation in the peripheral regions.

About the speaker

Babak Ghassim is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Business and Economics, UiT The Arctic University of Norway. He studied a master of strategic management at the University of Tehran, and proceeded to work in a research institute in Tehran dedicated to strategic technology planning in Iran’s oil and gas industry. Passionate about corporate sustainability and open innovation, Babak moved to Norway to do a PhD on this topic, with a special focus on the minerals industry. His research addresses the firm-level capabilities and inter-organizational factors that assist firms in benefiting from their stakeholders’ knowledge towards pursuing various innovation pathways aimed at a broader sustainability approach.