Repair of mobile phones fits with the vision of a circular economy in an urban context and with the Sustainable Development Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities. Drawing on the literature about firm level competitiveness and closed-loop design through repair, remanufacturing or recycling, we analyze the business ecosystem of independent mobile phone repair shops in the Netherlands, Poland and China as a glocal business activity. The analysis is based on primary data collection through a questionnaire to independent repair shops in the Netherlands (n
= 130), Poland (n
= 443) and China (n
= 175) with response rates of 13%, 12%, 40%, respectively; and 17 interviews in the Netherlands, 40 in Poland, and 70 in China. Findings indicate that to maintain a strong position in the local market and to sustain the trust of customers, independent mobile phone repair shops offer a range of customized services based on direct contact with customers. In China, the increasing prices of spare parts and falling prices of mobile phones constitute the most important challenges, whereas in the Netherlands and Poland, the most important challenges are the competitive pressures from informal repair activities, and new repair shops. Our research also revealed that repairability strongly depends on the global manufacturers’ circularity choices.
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