Circular Economy & Collaboration

The construction industry has a negative environmental impact on various levels e.g. pollution of air and water as well as a high consumption of resources. Linked with the barriers and characteristics of the sector like its complexity, long life cycles and conservative mindset with a low level of collaboration (Hart et al., 2019), it causes the need for a change towards a more sustainable way of construction. Moreover, the industry differs from others in many ways, which makes a specific focus even more relevant.
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).
Potential topics for a thesis can cover these strategies, collaborative approaches of (construction) companies in the transition towards CE, collaboration in a circular value chain, systemic approaches of implementing CE in the industry and more. A focus on the Construction industry is preferred but not mandatory.

Possible research topics for your thesis
• Collaboration as an enabler for CE
• Collaborative innovation processes
• Implementing a Circular Value Chain in the Construction Industry

The topic will be specified in a joint process. A focus on the Construction industry is preferred but not mandatory.

It will be your task to identify relevant literature and gain an understanding for your topic. You will extend, refine as well as validate your findings by using a to be defined scientific method. 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 a highly complex industry.
Your thesis might be used for further research.

• Above-average course achievement
• Advanced skills in English (written and spoken)
• Ability to work independently
• Interest in sustainability concepts and CE

as from now (or upon request)

References and further reading (selection)
Brown, P., Bocken, N. and Balkenende, R., 2019, Why Do Companies Pursue Collaborative Circular Oriented Innovation?, Sustainability 11 (3): 635.
De Angelis, R., Howard, M., & Miemczyk, J., 2018, Supply chain management and the circular economy: towards the circular supply chain. Production Planning & Control, 29(6), 425-437.
Eisenreich, A., Füller, J., & Stuchtey, M. (2021) "Open Circular Innovation: How Companies Can Develop Circular Innovations in Collaboration with Stakeholders“, Sustainability, 13(23).
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), 2012, Towards the Circular Economy Vol. 1: an economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition.
Goodman, J., Korsunova, A., & Halme, M. (2017) "Our collaborative future: Activities and roles of stakeholders in sustainability‐oriented innovation“, Business Strategy and the Environment, 26(6), 731-753.
Hart, J., Adams, K., Giesekam, J., Tingley, D. D., & Pomponi, F., 2019, Barriers and drivers in a circular economy: the case of the built environment. Procedia CIRP, 80, 619-624.
Kirchherr, J., Reike, D. and Hekkert, M., 2017, Conceptualizing the circular economy: An analysis of 114 definitions, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 127: 221–232.
Leising, E., Quist, J., & Bocken, N., 2018, Circular Economy in the building sector: Three cases and a collaboration tool., Journal of Cleaner production, 176, 976-989.
Pomponi, F., & Moncaster, A., 2017, Circular economy for the built environment: A research framework, Journal of cleaner production, 143, 710-718.

Please make yourself familiar with the literature for the topics you’re interested in from the list above and send your request including academic record and CV to: