Circular economy and social innovation

Stream #18

Chairs: Chiara De Bernardi (Scuola Universitaria Superiore di Pavia), Laura Maria Ferri (Università Cattolica), Flavia Cau (Università Cattolica)

Circular economy (CE) is a new production and consumption paradigm which proposes to overcome the traditional linear economic model in favour of a more regenerative and restorative system where products, components, and materials are kept “at their highest utility and value at all times” (EMF, 2015; Geissdoerfer et al., 2017; de Sousa Jabbour et al. 2019). According to this definition, the transition from linear to circular involves societal actors at micro (enterprises and consumers), meso (economic agents integrated in symbiosis) and macro (cities, regions, governments) levels (Kirchherr et al. 2017), thus requiring extensive economic and societal changes.

However, whereas the environmental implications and impacts are extensively discussed, the social and institutional dimensions of the transition are far less considered, although acknowledged by scholars and practitioners (Kristensen and Mosgaard, 2020; Moreau et al., 2017). On one side, exploring the social aspects of CE allows enterprises to keep pace with the competitive environment (Kazancoglu et al., 2018). On the other side, understanding the relationship with the way society innovates contributes to promote more inclusive and effective circular development frameworks (Kristensen and Mosgaard, 2020).

Scant literature has considered the plausible relationship between social innovation and CE in promoting new pathways of development based on innovative solutions able to tackle social and environmental issues. We therefore welcome papers in this realm. Contributions are invited on both the role that social innovation may have in supporting the transition to a circular economy and the impact that CE may determine over the development of social innovation.

The following are illustrative topics/themes that are consistent with the spirit of this call for papers. Authors will be encouraged to contribute papers with wider perspectives, as long as the papers are in line with the broad topics of the proposed call for papers. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches are relevant. 

Thus, we invite empirical and theoretical contributions dealing with, but not limited to: 

  • social enterprises’ degree of circularity
  • measurement and reporting of social impact of Circular economy
  • the contribution of circular business model to social innovation
  • social innovation strategies related to CE
  • how the concept of circular economy embraces the social dimensions
  • examination of how circular economy and social innovation jointly work towards sustainability in contexts such as the urban sustainability discourse
  • social development in industrial symbiosis aimed at circular economy
  • efficiency, effectiveness and implementation in CE initiatives
  • social actions to promote a greater degree of circularity among enterprises
  • how to integrate and measure social sustainability in the CE
  • inclusion of social indicators in CE measurement.