Product Sustainability Fitness: An Introduction

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished Conference Paperpeer-review


Purpose and background of the paper: This paper introduces the concept of product sustainability fitness (PSF) within technology and innovation management studies. Fitness is understood to be an indicator of how far a system is from collapse. Product sustainability fitness is then the ratio of product essentiality and environmental impact. Product essentiality is defined as a measure of how the consumption of a product meets a societal need. Environmental impact is a measure that considers the consumption of resources of a given system.
Methodology: This paper has combined use of primary and secondary data. First, it investigates the influence of location, gender, and family income on the perception of essentiality of ordinary goods and services. A total of 81 items, were classified according to a binary position of ‘essential’ or ‘superfluous’ by business students in both Brazil and UK. Then, secondary data about the carbon emissions of electronic devices (PC, Laptop, Video Game, Mobile phone, and Tablet) were collected to make an illustration of product sustainability fitness concept.
Findings: Our findings show that mobile phones are perceived the most essential product alongside laptops. PC are of medium essentiality, and tablets and video games are of low essentiality. When combining with data on manufacturing carbon footprint we found that mobile phones were the fittest products and tablets and video games the least fit. PC and laptops have a similar product sustainability fitness.
Research limitations: Methodological limitations exist mainly due to the use of a binary choice in the questionnaire, the sample method, which focused on similar-age individuals, and finally, the number of products classified. The focus on carbon emissions is only an illustration so using other measures and thresholds for environmental impact is in the future research agenda.
Practical implications: The research findings and mainly the concept of PSF can help government, companies, and individuals in making informed sustainable decisions on the development and purchase of products.
Originality: This paper presents the original concept of product sustainability fitness. Our study contributes to the debates on the design of sustainable products and processes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Event27th International Conference of the International Association for Management of Technology - National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai, India
Duration: 7 Apr 201911 Apr 2019


Conference27th International Conference of the International Association for Management of Technology


  • Product Sustainability Fitness, Technology Management, Sustainable Product Design


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