With the rapid development of the digital economy, whether firm digitalization can promote green technological innovation has attracted considerable attention from the academic in recent years. Nevertheless, in the existing literature, there is no unified standard for measuring firm digitalization and few studies have explored the channels through which firm digitalization affects green technological innovation in depth. In contrast to the existing literature, this paper not only measures firm digitalization employing intangible assets data, but also analyzes the annual reports of listed companies in a more detailed textual way, where we use each firm’s digital-related text proportion in the “Performance Review” of “Management Discussion and Analysis” to more accurately measure firm digitalization. This paper also employs online recruitment data to test the constructed indicators above. On this basis, it examines the impact of firm digitization on green technological innovation in heavy pollution industries, and uses patent application data with detailed information to explore and test the microscopic mechanism which is rarely explored in the existing literature.
This study shows that firm digitalization in heavy pollution industries can significantly promote green technological innovation, and this finding still holds significantly after a series of robustness tests. Firm digitalization in heavy pollution industries has a more significant effect on green invention patents with higher originality, while it does not have a significant effect on green utility patents with lower originality. The mechanism analysis shows that firm digitalization primarily promotes green technological innovation by enhancing the information sharing and knowledge integration ability of firms. Heterogeneity analysis shows that the positive effect of digitization on green technological innovation is greater for firms with more environmental investment and stronger environmental regulation in their regions.
The main contributions of this paper are as follows: First, it identifies and empirically examines the micro mechanism through which firm digitalization promotes green technological innovation, and clearly reveals that firm digitalization can promote green technological innovation through improving information sharing and knowledge integration, which expands the existing related research. Second, it examines the relationship between firm digitalization and sustainable development from the perspective of green technological innovation, revealing the path of compatibility between firm digitalization and sustainable development, which helps to provide policy insights for achieving economic green transformation. Third, it analyzes the heterogeneity of firm digitalization affecting green technological innovation based on the characteristics of firms and regions, helping to enrich the related research.