Emergence and Dynamics of Circular Economy Ecosystem
Licentiate thesis, 2023

The circular economy ecosystem (CEE) offers the potential to effectively manage the pressing issue of residual resources, encompassing waste and by-products that pose a challenge to our planet. Among various organizational forms, the ecosystem approach has emerged as the preferred method, fostering cross-industry collaboration to sustainably address residual resources. While business and innovation ecosystems have been extensively studied to understand their emergence, structure, and value proposition, they only provide a partial understanding of how CEEs come into being and manage these resources. Furthermore, CEEs encounter constraints from linear economic practices and environmental conditions. Given the prominent role of digital technologies within CEEs, this study delves into their influence, aiming to uncover their multifaceted impact beyond technical aspects.

This thesis sheds light on the distinctive factors driving the emergence of CEEs and how they differ from business and innovation ecosystems. Additionally, it explores the cohesive role played by digital technologies, extending beyond their conventional functions. This exploration is rooted in two case studies, one CEE in Africa and one in Europe. Both cases were selected due to their effective management of residual resources through sustainable approaches, coupled with their incorporation of digital technologies.

The findings of this research indicate that CEEs arise as a response to the need for coordinated collective action in the face of linear constraints and the necessity to access interdisciplinary knowledge. The pursuit of interdisciplinary knowledge takes precedence over economic considerations and competition due to the intrinsic motivation to acquire complementary knowledge. In addition, digital technologies act as a unifying force facilitating knowledge appropriation during experimentation, fostering cooperation among stakeholders, rather than promoting competition.

This thesis is positioned at the intersection of sustainable transitioning of strategic management and information systems.

Digital Technologies

business ecosystem

circular economy ecosystem

ecosystem renewal

residual resources


knowledge appropriation


Opponent: Michael Barrett: Professor of Information Systems & Innovation Studies, University of Cambridge Judge Business School, UK


Ida Eyi Heathcote-Fumador

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

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Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Environmental Management

Economics and Business

Business Administration

Environmental Sciences

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship





Opponent: Michael Barrett: Professor of Information Systems & Innovation Studies, University of Cambridge Judge Business School, UK

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