A process model for collaboration in circular oriented innovation

P. Brown*, C. Von Daniels, N.M.P. Bocken, A.R. Balkenende

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Circular oriented innovation commonly requires collaboration. Yet, to date, circular research lacks empirical investigation into collaborative processes. Collaborative processes are, however, highly researched within strategic management literature, thus offering valuable insights. The purpose of this paper is to investigate, identify and order the processes that companies undertake when designing and implementing collaborations for circular oriented innovation. Firstly, we integrate disparate strategic management literature to identify collaborative process ‘know-how’ and relevant ‘building blocks’. Secondly, we generate practice-based insights, via semi-structured interviews and desk-research, across three research cycles to understand how companies collaborate within circular oriented innovation. Theoretical contributions stem from the assessment and integration of strategic management collaborative process knowledge into the circular context. Managerial contributions derive from the process model that describes how to build collaborative circular oriented innovation. Furthermore, the principal result is the empirical investigation and identification of collaborative circular oriented innovation challenges. Challenges relate to how to; 1) formulate an initial ‘circular proposition’, 2) involve the ‘right’ people, 3) align upon a shared circular purpose, 4) develop circular oriented governance and decision-making, and 5) develop a circular oriented value capture model focused on collective outcomes. These form the basis for our proposed future research agenda. This research agenda aims to stimulate researchers and practitioners to further demystify collaborative processes to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125499
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Circular economy
  • Circular oriented innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Collaborative innovation
  • Process model
  • Circular business models

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