Active listening to customers: eco-innovation through value co-creation in the textile industry

Aurora Martínez-Martínez*, Juan Gabriel Cegarra-Navarro, Alexeis Garcia-Perez, Tiphaine De Valon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study contributes to current efforts to design and implement sustainable innovation strategies in organisations from the textile industry. This study aims to examine how businesses can overcome the current challenges (e.g. lack of resources) of sustainable innovation by the incorporation of green knowledge of customers into their value co-creation strategies. Such strategies are based on actively listening to customers and addressing their expectations with regard to environmental sustainability, in particular in the face of the negative environmental impact of the fast-fashion industry. Design/methodology/approach: The findings of this study are derived from the analysis of data collected from 208 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Spanish textile sector. A partial least squares structural equation modeling analysis was conducted using version 3.3.3 of the SmartPLS software. Findings: This paper contributes to the literature on environmental sustainability by informing SME eco-innovation through the active listening of their customers’ perceptions while implementing value co-creation strategies. The research has found that engaging with customers and actively listening and addressing their expectations can result in the creation of green knowledge that contributes to both incremental and radical eco-innovation in the textile sector. Practical implications: This study found that when organisations from the sector lack eco-innovation capabilities, their existing and often their potential customer base is able to acquire new environmental knowledge and transfer it to the business through a process of value co-creation. The research also found that such green knowledge has the potential to lead to eco-innovation in the sector. In other words, the value co-creation process between the textile industry and its customers is a driver of the eco-innovations required to reduce the environmental impact of the sector, helping it address both its sustainability and its ethical challenges. Originality/value: This study proposes that co-creation challenges such as the lack of resources, funding, qualified staff or technologies motivate companies in the textile sector to collaborate with their customers to seek joint solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1810-1829
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Issue number7
Early online date9 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2023


  • Active listening to customers
  • Co-creation challenges
  • Green knowledge
  • Incremental eco-innovations
  • Radical eco-innovations


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