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Innovation and Entrepreneurship in a Circular Economy
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Business and Economic Studies, Business administration.
2016 (English)In: EAEPE 2016 Proceedings, 2016Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A challenge for us who look forward to a ‘Dynamic Circular Economy’ is to show that there will be ample room for innovation and entrepreneurship in the future society for which we work. A possible reason why this topic has not been sufficiently addressed is that the concepts innovation and entrepreneurship are strongly associated with ’defences’ for the present socio-economic formation. When the problem of inequalities produced by the system is raised you often hear that those inequalities represent a price that ‘we’ have to pay for the dynamism associated with innovation and entrepreneurship. The paper which I have in mind builds on ideas about a neoliberal-unsustainability nexus (Hollander et.al. 2015). Most of my research and social practice since 40 years have been inspired by such a thought figure. There are partial lessons to be learned from experiences gained under our present socio-economic formation. Such lessons for a future Circular Economy will of course be piecemeal and in need to be combined with visionary thinking. I will present a somewhat defensive way of arguing that regulations checking present modes of accumulation are indeed compatible with dynamism. Some examples come from the experience of the ‘Swedish Model’ during its golden years between the 1950s and the 1970s (henceforth the ‘Golden Age Swedish Model’). The socio-economic climate nurtured by the Model resulted in many very useful innovations and an openness to economic transformations shared by a broad spectrum of social strata. The transformations resulting from a compressed wage structure and wide endorsement of technological change were generally not perceived as threats since welfare state arrangements functioned as safeguards (Hollander 2016). My first examples come from innovations nurtured by demand shaping for sustainability. The ‘Golden Age Swedish Model’ made possible more symmetrical relations between users producers and workers managers. It thus opened up spaces for creative demand shaping (Hollander 2003). The original focus of the demand shaping model was on natural and work environments (related to ecological and social sustainability). Among the examples were enviro friendly seed protectives and non-toxic paints. Demand shaping refers to the complex process from a nascent demand until the demand – in interaction with technology development – has been transformed in such a way as to make it possible to fulfil. Also when it comes to work organisation the strong relative position of labour made sophisticated demand shaping possible. I argue elsewhere that the advanced Swedish production systems which are the envy of so many engineers around the globe can be seen in relation to the solidarity wages policy which was a corner stone of the ‘Golden Age Swedish Model’. This model – associated with what in a Polanyian discourse is called embedded liberalism – is today more or less buried (Ryner i.a. 2004). But legacies remain and Swedish innovations associated with i.a. broad ICT literacy, gender equality and advanced day-care are today admired even by neo-liberal observers (The Economist's Special report 2013).Finally I will speculate about the dynamic potential of societies where there are reasonably good preconditions for symmetric relations and thus reciprocity. Bradley & Pargman (2016 or 2017) suggest that ‘the sharing economy’ can be viewed as ‘the commons of the 21st century’. Those contemporary commons are situated in a globalised, urbanised and digitalised context. Missions of such sustainability-enhancing commons are very diverse but can include to democratise access to low-cost bicycling, to build a culture of trust and generosity, or to democratise access to information. My speculative idea is that societies with reasonable equality etc. are likely to be overrepresented in this kind of entrepreneurship of the future and that the kind of ‘social entrepreneurs’ or “‘intrapreneurs’ in social institutions” who played roles in my first examples will be vital in the transition to a ‘Dynamic Circular Economy’.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keyword [en]
Innovation, circular economy
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-23561OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-23561DiVA: diva2:1072388
Conference
Industrialisation, Socio-Economic Transformation and Institutions, The 28th Annual EAEPE Conference, Manchester, UK, 3-6 November 2016
Available from: 2017-02-07 Created: 2017-02-07 Last updated: 2017-08-09Bibliographically approved

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