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Title: Navigating the circular economy for entrepreneurial opportunities
Authors: Diacono, Steven
Keywords: Entrepreneurship
Social capital (Sociology)
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: The circular economy is “an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design” (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015, p.5). The concept is gaining increasing attention and is being touted as an economic solution to the degradation of the earth’s natural systems and resource stocks. Policymakers and businesses are prioritising the circular economy due to the economic, environmental and social gains associated with its successful implementation. In this regard, entrepreneurs have been identified as key custodians in leading the transition to a circular economy. Despite this, there is still limited research in this important field, with no mention of concepts such as the ‘circular entrepreneur’ or ‘circular entrepreneurship’ in mainstream entrepreneurship journals. This dissertation aims to promote circular entrepreneurship and serve as a handle to stimulate research on this type of entrepreneurial activity. First, the research sets out to garner an initial understanding and develop theoretical foundations for this emerging phenomenon. Secondly, it seeks to shed light on how entrepreneurs identify opportunities in the circular economy. Finally, this study aims to gain insights into whether the circular economy is seen as a means towards achieving sustainable development, and whether the objectives of circular entrepreneurship are aligned with those of sustainable entrepreneurship. A qualitative approach was utilised to explore these issues, using an adaptation of Patzelt and Shepherd’s (2011) model of sustainable opportunity identification to guide the research process. Nine in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with circular entrepreneurs sampled across three EU Member States, namely the Netherlands, Ireland and Malta. The data was then studied by means of thematic analysis. The findings suggest that circular entrepreneurs are motivated by maximising the value of products and materials which in turn satisfies the triple bottom line. The interviews revealed that the circular entrepreneurs identify opportunities as a result of stocks of prior knowledge, motivational factors, entrepreneurial experience and social capital. The study concluded that the circular economy not only achieves sustainability but also appears to go beyond it as negative externalities are designed out of the economy.
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - InsDeB - 2017

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