From Sustainable Global Value Chains to Circular Economy — Different Silos, Different Perspectives, but Many Opportunities to Build Bridges

Joerg S. Hofstetter, Valentina De Marchi, Joseph Sarkis, Kannan Govindan, Robert Klassen, Aldo R. Ometto, Katharina S. Spraul, Nancy Bocken, Weslynne S. Ashton, Sanjay Sharma, Melanie Jaeger-Erben, Charlotte Jensen, Paul Dewick, Patrick Schröder, Noemi Sinkovics, Sherwat E. Ibrahim, Luke Fiske, Anthony Goerzen & Diego Vazquez-Brust
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A growing interest in the circular economy concept has pushed the discourse in various management-related disciplines beyond established boundaries, with calls to better address how such a model may be developed in a world of global value chains. Still, the conventional linear economy model continues to dominate business, society, and research. While the concept of better connecting physical output and input flows at multiple production or consumption levels is becoming more accepted, it remains unclear how to make this happen while ensuring that sustainability targets are met or exceeded. Multiple scientific communities contribute different perspectives to this discourse, with promising opportunities for research. Circular economy and sustainability from business and economics perspectives are multifaceted. The existing body of knowledge needs to be advanced to assist private individuals, business managers, investors, or policymakers in making informed decisions. In this article for the inaugural issue, we provide a snapshot of the discourses among those who have studied the circular economy and its related topics. We outline conceptual inroads and potential research questions to encourage further circular economy and sustainability research and discourse from business or economics perspectives as well as from the broader transdisciplinary angle. We propose three research pathways: (1) connecting output with input needs in a global circular economy; (2) beyond today’s business logic for a global circular economy; and (3) inclusion of the Global South in North-dominated circular economies. For each, we propose concepts, theories, or methodological approaches and offer various perspectives from the micro, macro, and meso levels.


Joerg Hofstetter

KEDGE Business School, France

Joseph Sarkis

Foisie Business School of Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Sherwat Elwan Ibrahim

The American University of Cairo

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