Next Article in Journal
Optimal Photovoltaic/Battery Energy Storage/Electric Vehicle Charging Station Design Based on Multi-Agent Particle Swarm Optimization Algorithm
Previous Article in Journal
How Development Affects News Media Coverage of Earthquakes: Implications for Disaster Risk Reduction in Observing Communities
Article Menu
Issue 7 (April-1) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Industrial Symbiosis Dynamics, a Strategy to Accomplish Complex Analysis: The Dunkirk Case Study

CERDI, Université Clermont Auvergne, 26 Avenue Léon Blum, 63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France
Industrial Bioeconomy Chair, NEOMA Business School (campus Reims), 59 Rue Pierre Taittinger, 51100 Reims, France
Jean Monnet Excellence Center on Sustainability (ERASME), Campus universitaire des Cézeaux-2, avenue Blaise Pascal, 63178 Aubière, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 1971;
Received: 27 January 2019 / Revised: 28 March 2019 / Accepted: 29 March 2019 / Published: 3 April 2019
PDF [1033 KB, uploaded 3 April 2019]


Industrial symbiosis (IS) is presented as an inter-firm organizational strategy with the aim of social innovation that targets material and energy flow optimization but also structural sustainability. In this paper, we present geographical proximity as the theoretical framework used to analyse industrial symbiosis through a methodology based on System Dynamics and the underpinning use of Causal Loop Diagrams, aiming to identify the main drivers and hindrances that reinforce or regulate the industrial symbiosis’s sustainability. The understanding of industrial symbiosis is embedded in a theoretical framework that conceptualizes industry as a complex ecosystem in which proximity analysis and stakeholder theory are determinant, giving this methodology a comparative advantage over descriptive statistical forecasting, because it is able to integrate social causal rationality when forecasting attractiveness in a region or individual firm’s potential. A successful industrial symbiosis lasts only if it is able to address collective action problems. The stakeholders’ influence then becomes essential to the complex understanding of this institution, because by shaping individual behaviour in a social context, industrial symbiosis provides a degree of coordination and cooperation in order to overcome social dilemmas for actors who cannot achieve their own goals alone. The proposed narrative encourages us to draw up scenarios, integrating variables from different motivational value dimensions: efficiency, resilience, cooperation and proximity in the industrial symbiosis. We use the Dunkirk case study to explain the role of geographical systems analysis, identifying loops that reinforce or regulate the sustainability of industrial symbiosis and identifying three leverage points: “Training, workshop and education programs for managers and directors,” “Industrial symbiosis governance” and “Agreements in waste regulation conflicts.” The social dynamics aims for the consolidation of the network, through stakeholder interaction and explains the local success and failure of every industrial symbiosis through a system dynamics analysis. View Full-Text
Keywords: causal loop diagrams; Dunkirk; industrial symbiosis; complex network analysis; system dynamics causal loop diagrams; Dunkirk; industrial symbiosis; complex network analysis; system dynamics

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Morales, M.E.; Diemer, A. Industrial Symbiosis Dynamics, a Strategy to Accomplish Complex Analysis: The Dunkirk Case Study. Sustainability 2019, 11, 1971.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Sustainability EISSN 2071-1050 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top