The normative question "what role should governmental policy play to facilitate the development of industrial symbiosis?" has received considerable attention of researchers. However, for several reasons the effects of governmental policy actions on industrial symbiosis are still not clear. This article proposes a research agenda to clarify the mechanisms of policy intervention and facilitation of industrial symbiosis based on a comprehensive review of industrial symbiosis literature, focusing on how policy is conceptualized and studied. The results show that existing research lacks an explicit definition of policy, and employs a static conceptualization of policy that is reinforced by comparative statics research methods. We argue that a dynamic process perspective is crucial to reveal the actual mechanisms through which policy intervention and facilitation affect the evolution of industrial symbiosis. Building on this view, industrial symbiosis research is connected with insights from policy sciences, and the case of policy translation of Circular Economy and Eco-industrial Park in China is investigated in order to illustrate that policy is at heart a dynamic process. We conclude with a research agenda proposing that the key to reveal the mechanisms is to identify the sequence of events connecting policy process and industrial symbiosis practices. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.