Circular Economy & Paradoxical Tensions

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).
However, due to various challenges that occur when implementing the concept as an organization, the uptake of circular principles is rather slow in practice (De Angelis, 2021). In particular, organisations face paradoxical tensions such as decision conflicts among different performance objectives when implementing CE principles (De Angelis, 2021).

Aim of the thesis:
The aim of this study is to develop an understanding of the paradoxical tensions arising when implementing CE as an organization. It will be your task to identify relevant literature and gain an understanding of the paradoxical tensions arising when implementing CE and how these tensions are managed and overcome. 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.
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 tensions arising when implementing sustainable concepts

Start and further reading:
From now on

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): 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.
Smith, W. K. and Lewis, M. W. 2011. “Toward a Theory of Paradox: A Dynamic Equilibrium Model of Organizing”. The Academy of Management Review 36: 381–403.

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