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Knowledge obstacles when transitioning towards circular economy : an industrial intra-organisational perspective


2. Theoretical background
3. Research methodology
4. Findings and analysis
5. Actionable managerial recommendations
6 Closing remarks
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Circular economy (CE) is necessary for achieving sustainability goals. Nonetheless, the distillation of CE practices into business operations has been unsatisfactory as firms struggle to transition to CE. There is an increase in studies that have attempted to identify challenges impeding the implementation of CE practices. However, most of these studies focus on technical and external aspects affecting CE, leaving intra-organisational aspects such as organisational learning and knowledge largely unexplored. The latter aspects can play a significant role in CE transitions, and thus warrants further research. To address this research gap, this study draws on lean thinking as an organisational learning system and accentuates knowledge obstacles, seen as wastes, that can stifle a transition to CE. Subsequently, it deploys action-learning research, involving collaboration between researchers and the participants in the action to generate actionable knowledge. The analysis of the findings is used to develop a novel framework including six measures that can be implemented to counteract knowledge obstacles and lay a foundation for a CE transition. The proposed framework can be the basis for further research on lean and intra-organisational aspects that can help firms restructure the current linear mode of production, and thus accelerate a smooth CE transition.


Academic article


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 313687





  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Møre og Romsdal Research Foundation
  • Molde University College - Specialized University in Logistics
  • SINTEF Manufacturing



Published in

International Journal of Production Research




Taylor & Francis

View this publication at Cristin