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Circular business models as instruments of corporate power

Wells, Peter ORCID: and Skeete, Jean-Paul ORCID: 2023. Circular business models as instruments of corporate power. Presented at: New Business Models Conference Proceedings 2023, Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on New Business Models. Maastricht University Press, 10.26481/mup.2302.36

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The creation of circular business models to deliver the circular economy has been widely accepted as offering significant sustainability benefits. A related expectation is that in creating circular business models, focal companies will necessarily need to encompass multiple stakeholder partnerships to access the resources and skills which they lack. In combination, these two expectations result in a neglect of the potential for focal companies to increase their power and control over the entire product lifecycle for which the outcomes are at best uncertain. This paper proposes a research agenda on corporate power in the circular economy, with a focus on the exclusive control over natural capital that circularity may enable in the form of circular vertical integration. Competitive forces are argued to be fundamental to the corporate drive to control natural capital. The paper is empirically grounded in a case study of VW Group in the automotive industry and its transition to battery electric vehicles. It is concluded that previous research into business model innovation for the circular economy has often mistakenly assumed benign stewardship in which corporate hegemony is mitigated by stakeholder engagement, such that a more critical perspective is needed.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Maastricht University Press
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 June 2023
Date of Acceptance: 13 June 2023
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2024 11:40

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