The role of Portuguese manufacturers-suppliers in sustainability-oriented innovation and competitiveness in the clothing and textile industry

Project Details


Most innovation and sustainability management research focuses on the outputs of the innovation, either in terms of impact on sustainability or in terms of products, leaving the internal processes enabling sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI) in the dark (Adams et al., 2016; Klein et al., 2021). In research on sustainability in the clothing and textile industry, this can be explained by the focus of previous studies on brands, overlooking the manufacturers/suppliers and their role (Mukendi et al., 2020). As a result, we know little about how firms in the clothing and textile industry are able to innovate to be more sustainable, which impedes to diffuse best practices to other firms in the industry and slows down its transformation. Yet experts raise awareness about the necessity for brands to coordinate with other stakeholders, and in particular manufacturers/suppliers, to be able to innovate and change business models towards sustainability, in order to meet the Paris Agreement objectives and the SDG of the United Nations (BCG, 2019, McKinsey, 2020). Understanding the internal processes of SOI can also be important in motivating decision-makers or even targets of these policies to change the policies, to encourage and stimulate SOI and to create an ecosystem that supports innovation and new sustainable business models (McKinsey, 2021). These knowledge gap areas exist in particular regarding the role of Portuguese manufacturers/suppliers in SOI, which makes Portugal an interesting and strategic case. Portuguese companies occupy a critical position in the European value chain in the clothing and textile industry, as they are becoming the manufacturers/suppliers of European sustainable fashion brands (Nyfeler, 2020).Therefore, the aim of this project is threefold: (1) to understand the role of manufacturers/suppliers in sustainability oriented innovations; (2) to investigate how international brands/retailers and Portuguese manufacturers/suppliers collaborate; (3) to develop sufficient knowledge to offer recommendations and training to policy-makers and industry actors in Portugal. The results of the research project will be critical for the strategic decisions of the Portuguese manufacturers/suppliers to be able to seize the opportunity of sustainability by identifying how they can be more proactive to answer brands and retailers’ sustainability needs.
Effective start/end date1/09/2231/08/24


  • sustainability
  • manufacturers
  • suppliers
  • innovation
  • textile industry


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