Circular economy and entrepreneurial ecosystems: A missing link?

Call for papers for: Management of Environmental Quality

Guest Editors

João J. Ferreira - University of Beira Interior, Portugal, e-mails: [email protected]; [email protected]

Marina Dabić - Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, Croatia, & Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom, e-mails: [email protected]; [email protected]

Overview of Special Issue

Over the last 60 years, the way governments in advanced countries have adopted environmental, industrial, and business policies has evolved (e.g. OECD, 2014; Warwick, 2013, Dabić et al.,2016). In the last 20 years, we have witnessed an escalation in the number of political initiatives and the level of funding committed to these activities in a process called developmental state (Block, 2008). In the circular economy action plan (COM, 2015 :614), a circular economy is explicated as an economy ‘where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste minimised’. 
The European resource efficiency platform, manifesto and policy recommendations offer the basis for action for a resource-efficient Europe and provide ways towards a resource-efficient and circular economy (EC, 2012). The EC has carried out studies to identify new opportunities for the CE from different approaches. The 2016 report “Circular economy in Europe. Developing the knowledge base” gathered and classified all information available, which the action plan would have to better understand in order to define actions facilitating the transition to the CE. Circular economy reason supports an economic model based on removing resource inputs and wastage through a holistic perception of the system (Ellen MacArtur Foundation, 2016) 
Consequently, policymakers are now beginning to recognize the value of a more systems-based way of support on the circular economy from an entrepreneurial perspective. This embodies a change away from enterprise specific involvements towards more holistic activities which focus on developing networks, aligning priorities, building new institutional capabilities and fostering synergies between different stakeholders (OECD, 2014, p. 5). This holistic approach enable systemic consideration of the implications of the paradigm shift, which includes interaction between different domains of human being (economic, social and environmental), different geographic regions (spatial dimension) and different groups (temporal/dynamic dimension).
The European Commission issued on 16th of January 2018 a Communication “on a monitoring framework for the circular economy”, containing 10 indicators selected to capture the main elements of a circular economy.
Within some different perspectives, one emerging approach very recent is focused on ‘entrepreneurial ecosystems’ (Acs et al., 2018; Audretsch et al., 2019; Ferreira & Teixeira, 2019; Isenberg, 2014; Stam, 2015). This approach has only occurred during the last five years and there is not yet broadly common definition (Stam, 2015).
According to Isenberg (2014), the predominant metaphor for fostering entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy is the “entrepreneurship ecosystem”. In this respect, the term ecosystem was originally labelled by James Moore in a seminal article in Harvard Business Review published during the 1990s. Moore (1993) claims that businesses do not advance in a ‘vacuum’ and highlighted the relationally embedded nature of how enterprises interact with stakeholders. Furthermore, it is argued that in dynamic ecosystems new enterprises have better opportunities to grow, and create employment, compared with firms created in other locations (Audretsch et al., 2019; Rosted 2012). 
Despite many studies on entrepreneurial ecosystems, little has touched upon studies focusing on the link with circular economy. Knowledge on the linkage between entrepreneurship and circular economy is in its infant stage. Nevertheless, some studies discuss entrepreneurship and sustainable development as a broad social goal (Edler and James, 2015; Hall et al. 2010; Khan et al., 2020). For instance, Parker (2012) offers a comprehensive survey of the theories of entrepreneurship, innovation and business cycles, whereas Köhler (2012) compares the neo-Schumpeterian theory of Kondratiev waves and the multi-level perspective on environmental innovation and societal transitions. Parida et al.  (2019) investigated transition to a circular economy and they pointed out that for ecosystem transformation toward a circular economy paradigm   ecosystem-wide orchestration is compulsory. They discovery that ecosystem orchestrators achieved the transition toward a circular economy in two phases: 1) ecosystem readiness assessment, and 2) ecosystem transformation.
Other studies have used indicators to estimate cleaner production barriers that add value to guidelines that facilitate entrepreneurship and that adapt to the implementation of the circular economy (Shi et al., 2008). As a result of globalization, entrepreneurial activities have been an important source of social and ecological sustainability and entrepreneurial ecosystems are seen as a dynamic force of change contributing to sustainable development. 
Furthermore, entrepreneurship is not only the output of the system, entrepreneurs are important players themselves in generating the ecosystem and keeping it sustainable and healthy (Stam, 2015; DiVito, and Ingen-Housz, 2019; Konietzko et al., 2020). Prosperous entrepreneurial systems are likely to have some initial and existing economic advantages and this will involve governments supporting locations that are already favoured by this environment. Silicon Valley shows, successful entrepreneurial ecosystems generate internal dissimilarities (OECD, 2014). What is done to the spatial "losers" that are produced by this policy is not clear. Environmental management and entrepreneurial ecosystems is a gradually relevant theme from a development perspective, but still largely under-researched. 
In this pandemic crisis context, the effects are multiple and differentiated across an economy and exacerbate the vulnerability of already burdened social groups and ecosystems. The negative impacts have encouraged policymakers and scientists to emphasize the urgent need to move toward a more sustainable circular economy, and inspiring the adoption of sustainable practices (Singh, 2019) to tackle urgent problems of environmental degradation and resource scarcity. 
In this proposal we are looking for analysis of possible transition scenarios and reactions to policies on a competent choice of agent-based modelling tools, which will point out development on the basis of behavioural economics and adoption theories supported by micro and macroeconomic data as well as paper driven by data derived from behavioural researches, participatory modelling and qualitative reviews including insights from key stakeholders.
Additionally, we have argued that fostering the sustainable development of the circular economy enhancing the resilience of economies and entrepreneurial ecosystems requires more in-depth research. Although impressive advances have been made with circular economy and entrepreneurship, the gap towards entrepreneurial ecosystems is still significant. This call offers thus, a new and distinct perspective on the circular economy and entrepreneurial ecosystems through integrating many of the themes from this former literature. 

Small sample of research questions appropriate for this special issue:

•    What we do know (and do not know) about circular economy and entrepreneurial ecosystem?
•    How should an environmental and entrepreneurial ecosystem be? What are the domains? 
•    What are the economic, technological and environmental impacts of entrepreneurial ecosystems?
•    How do entrepreneurial ecosystems perform with the different forms of circular economy?
•    What are the circular economy players within ecosystems?
•    What kind of models, dimensions, metrics and theories of circular economy and entrepreneurship ecosystem can be designed?
•    What policies and/or barriers and challenges exist to implementation of a circular economy within of an entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Important Dates

Submissions opens: 10th Aug 2020
Submissions close: 30th Nov 2020
Final acceptance: 11th May 2021
Publication date: end of July 2021
Submission Details

Please submit your manuscript here:

View the author guidelines here:


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