Circular ecosystem innovation: An initial set of principles

Jan Konietzko*, Nancy Bocken, Erik Jan Hultink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


A circular economy maximizes the value of material resources and minimizes greenhouse gas emissions, resource use, waste and pollution. We will posit that circularity needs to be understood as a property of a system (e.g., the mobility system of a city), rather than a property of an individual product or service (e.g., a car or a car-sharing service). Hence, there is a need for more knowledge on how to innovate towards ‘circular ecosystems’. This study proposes a set of principles for ‘circular ecosystem innovation’, based on: 1) a concise literature review to retrieve recommended principles on how to successfully innovate in ecosystems, 2) a mobility case of circular ecosystem innovation to investigate how relevant and useful these principles are for circular oriented innovation. The case data include 20 interviews, workshop data and internal background documents. The identified principles can be categorized in three groups: 1) collaboration (i.e., how firms can interact with other organizations in their ecosystem to innovate towards circularity), 2) experimentation (i.e., how firms can organize a structured trial-and-error process to implement greater circularity) and 3) platformization (i.e., how firms can organize social and economic interactions via online platforms to achieve greater circularity). Future research may focus on identifying opportunities and barriers to applying these principles in different contexts than in the one that is investigated in the present study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119942
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Circular business models
  • Circular economy
  • Innovation ecosystems
  • Platform ecosystems
  • Service ecosystems


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