Circular-Oriented Innovation for Solving Grand Environmental Challenges: A Multiple-case Study


Innovator firms play a key role in fighting grand environmental challenges (GECs) via circular-oriented innovation. The prior literature has acknowledged two innovator firm types, “born circulars” and “circularity adopters”, which have a different strategic fit to the environment with embedded GECs. With investigation of 8 pioneer circular company cases, the study identifies the key modifications, innovation types, and overall circular-oriented innovation processes to be followed by these CE firms, and adds as an emergent finding a third firm type: “CE-identity finders.” Finally, this study proposes different ways innovator firms can succeed with their circular-oriented innovation processes depending on their strategic fit to GEC-embedded context, and provides managerial implications and future research avenues.


Jenni Kaipainen, Tampere University
Leena Aarikka-Stenroos, Tampere University
Paavo Ritala, Lappeenranta University of Technology

Published: XXXII ISPIM Innovation conference – Virtual Conference on 20-23 June 2021: conference article & conference presentation

Potential beneficiaries of the results: Ministries, companies, research and development organizations, cities and municipalities, central organizations

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Jenni Kaipainen