Circular ecosystem structure and orchestration: outlining actions to innovate, integrate, and invest

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nadège Troussier
Author: Hofmann Trevisan, Adriana (1); Gonçalves Castro, Camila (1,3); Augusto de Vasconcelos Gomes, Leonardo (2); Mascarenhas, Janaina (1)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: São Carlos School of Engineering, University of São Paulo, Department of Production Engineering, Av. Trabalhador São Carlense, 400, 13566-590, São Carlos, SP, Brazil; 2: Business Administration Department, School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting, University of São Paulo, Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto, 908, 05508-010 São Paulo, SP, Brazil; 3: Federal Institute of Education, Science, and Technology of Minas Gerais – Campus Congonhas, Av. Michael Pereira de Souza, 3007, 36415-000, Congonhas, MG, Brazil
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 0897-0906
DOI number:


Circular ecosystem is a growing research field that is gaining attention due to representing a more robust alignment structure than a single firm. However, prior research lacks empirical evidence on how circular ecosystems are structured and how orchestrators coordinate a set of actors towards a coherent circular value proposition. By studying nine organizations related to the carton packaging recycling ecosystem, we reveal the complexity of recovering and co-creating value in a systemic network with actors competing and collaborating simultaneously. Based on that, we propose a framework for orchestrating circular ecosystems. Our results indicate that orchestrators should integrate strategic actors, invest in infrastructure, and innovate in product design. We also discuss ecosystem resilience during and after the covid 19 pandemic, showing how the orchestrator was fundamental to the sustainability of the ecosystem. Overall, this paper contributes to increasing the understanding of inter-organizational relationships towards the circularity of resources.

Keywords: Circular economy, Sustainability, Case study, ecosystems

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