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Agency in Circular City Ecosystems—A Rationalities Perspective

Management and Organization, Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, Turku School of Economics, Rehtorinpellonkatu 3, 20500 Turku, Finland
The Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management, Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB, UK
Management and Marketing, Essex Business School, Colchester Campus, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK
School of Management/Regional Studies, University of Vaasa, PL 700, 65101 Vaasa, Finland
Department of Built Environment, Aalto University School of Engineering, P.O. Box 14100, 00076 Aalto, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ermanno C. Tortia
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2544;
Received: 22 January 2021 / Revised: 15 February 2021 / Accepted: 19 February 2021 / Published: 26 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Change Agency in Sustainability Transitions)
The concept of agency is increasingly used in the literature on sustainability transitions. In this paper, we add to that discussion by arguing that the concept of rationality opens new avenues to theorizing relational agency in transitions toward a circular economy. To this end, we compare rationality conceptions from management (e.g., collaboration and competition) with critical theory perspectives on rationality (e.g., instrumental and communicative rationality). This leads us to develop a typology matrix for describing plural rationalities underpinning relational agency. We illustrate this typology using excerpts from an in-depth case study of an ongoing city-coordinated ecosystem that develops a smart technology-enabled urban area based on the principles of circularity. The first contribution of this interdisciplinary paper is to offer a rational perspective on theorizing the antecedents of relational agency in circular economy transitions, where communicatively rational action enables agency and change. Secondly, our paper contributes to the literature on circular cities through conceptualizing circular transition as simultaneous collaboration and competition. Thirdly, our paper introduces a dyadic perspective on rationality to the literature on coopetition and provides an operating space from which professionals can navigate, depending on the type of coopetitive situation. View Full-Text
Keywords: coopetition; collaboration; competition; rationality; agency; relational agency; smart circular city development; circular economy; ecosystems coopetition; collaboration; competition; rationality; agency; relational agency; smart circular city development; circular economy; ecosystems
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hirvensalo, A.; Teerikangas, S.; Reynolds, N.-S.; Kalliomäki, H.; Mäntysalo, R.; Mattila, H.; Granqvist, K. Agency in Circular City Ecosystems—A Rationalities Perspective. Sustainability 2021, 13, 2544.

AMA Style

Hirvensalo A, Teerikangas S, Reynolds N-S, Kalliomäki H, Mäntysalo R, Mattila H, Granqvist K. Agency in Circular City Ecosystems—A Rationalities Perspective. Sustainability. 2021; 13(5):2544.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hirvensalo, Antero, Satu Teerikangas, Noelia-Sarah Reynolds, Helka Kalliomäki, Raine Mäntysalo, Hanna Mattila, and Kaisa Granqvist. 2021. "Agency in Circular City Ecosystems—A Rationalities Perspective" Sustainability 13, no. 5: 2544.

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