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Open AccessArticle

From Barriers to Enablers: The Role of Organizational Learning in Transitioning SMEs into the Circular Economy

1
Department of Economics and Management, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
2
University of Wisconsin—Green Bay, Green Bay, WI 54311, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Carla Curado
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1021; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031021
Received: 29 December 2020 / Revised: 13 January 2021 / Accepted: 15 January 2021 / Published: 20 January 2021
To contribute to small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) sustainable transition into the circular economy, the study proposes the activation of organizational learning (OL) processes—denoted here as multi-level knowledge creation, transfer, and retention processes—as a key phase in introducing circular business models (CBMs) at SME and supply chain (SC) level. The research employs a mixed-method approach, using the focus group methodology to identify contextual elements impacting on CBM-related OL processes, and a survey-based evaluation to single out the most frequently used OL processes inside Italian construction SMEs. As a main result, a CBM-oriented OL multi-level model offers a fine-grained understanding of contextual elements acting mutually as barriers and drivers for OL processes, as possible OL dynamics among them. The multi-level culture construct—composed of external stakeholders’, SC stakeholders’, and organizational culture—identify the key element to activate CBM-oriented OL processes. Main implications are related to the identification of cultural, structural, regulatory, and process contextual elements across the external, SC, and organizational levels, and their interrelation with applicable intraorganizational and interorganizational learning processes. The proposed model would contribute to an improved implementation of transitioning into the circular economy utilizing sustainable business models in the construction SMEs. View Full-Text
Keywords: organizational learning; circular economy; small and medium enterprises (SMEs); business model; supply chain; construction; Italy; barrier and enabler organizational learning; circular economy; small and medium enterprises (SMEs); business model; supply chain; construction; Italy; barrier and enabler
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MDPI and ACS Style

Scipioni, S.; Russ, M.; Niccolini, F. From Barriers to Enablers: The Role of Organizational Learning in Transitioning SMEs into the Circular Economy. Sustainability 2021, 13, 1021. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031021

AMA Style

Scipioni S, Russ M, Niccolini F. From Barriers to Enablers: The Role of Organizational Learning in Transitioning SMEs into the Circular Economy. Sustainability. 2021; 13(3):1021. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031021

Chicago/Turabian Style

Scipioni, Sara; Russ, Meir; Niccolini, Federico. 2021. "From Barriers to Enablers: The Role of Organizational Learning in Transitioning SMEs into the Circular Economy" Sustainability 13, no. 3: 1021. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031021

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

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