Circular Economy & Organizational Learning

The concept of Circular Economy (CE) presents an opportunity for a transition from the current ‘take-make-dispose’ economic approach (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2012) towards an economic system that ensures “(…) environmental quality, economic prosperity and social equity (…)” (Kirchherr et al., 2017, p. 229) simultaneously. For this transition, organizations need to innovate systemically and collaboratively while incorporating principles of circularity and sustainability (Brown et al., 2019; Konietzko et al., 2020).
Because organizations often need to acquire new skills and capabilities to innovate for and implement CE, they need to actively engage in intra- and interorganizational learning processes. Fostering organizational learning can help to overcome CE-related barriers and capitalize CE-related enablers. (Scipioni et al., 2021)

Aim of the thesis:
The aim of this study is to develop an understanding of the role of organizational learning when implementing CE as an organization. It will be your task to identify relevant literature and gain an understanding of the learning processes taking place when implementing CE and how these processes are managed. You will extend, refine as well as validate your findings by analysing and coding selected CE case studies.
By doing so, you will acquire expert knowledge in the area of CE and gain an understanding of the complexity of integrating sustainable concepts within an organisation. Additionally, you will gain insights into how organisations adapt and develop their capabilities in order to pursue sustainable objectives.
Your thesis will be used for further research.

• Above-average course achievement
• Advanced skills in English (written and spoken)
• Ability to work independently
• Interest in sustainable concepts, CE and organizational learning processes

Start and further reading:
From now on

Argote, L., Lee, S. and Park, J. 2020. “Organizational Learning Processes and Outcomes: Major Findings and Future Research Directions.” Management Science.
Brown, P., Bocken, N. and Balkenende, R. 2019. “Why Do Companies Pursue Collaborative Circular Oriented Innovation?” Sustainability 11 (3): 635.
De Angelis, R. 2021. “Circular economy and paradox theory: A business model perspective.” Journal of Cleaner Production 285.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) 2012. Towards the Circular Economy Vol. 1: an economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 10 May 2021).
Konietzko, J., Bocken, N. and Hultink, E.J. 2020. “A Tool to Analyze, Ideate and Develop Circular Innovation Ecosystems.” Sustainability 12 (1): p. 417.
Kirchherr, J., Reike, D. and Hekkert, M. (2017) “Conceptualizing the circular economy: An analysis of 114 definitions.” Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 127: 221–232.
Scipioni, S., Russ, M. and Niccolini, F. 2021. “From Barriers to Enablers: The Role of Organizational Learning in Transitioning SMEs into the Circular Economy”. Sustainability-basel 13.

Please make yourself familiar with the background literature as listed above and send your request including academic record and CV by mail to: