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New stakeholder collaborations essential for enterprises

25 January 2022
Manon Eikelenboom
Manon Eikelenboom

Enterprises are central actors for achieving societal sustainability and can fulfil this role by adopting circular principles, such as reduce, reuse and remanufacture. This requires new collaborations with key stakeholders for the generation, preservation and restoration of collective values. How can enterprises collaborate with their stakeholders in new ways to add to sustainability and the circular economy?

Manon Eikelenboom (27), PhD researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Entrepreneurship at University of Groningen/Campus Fryslân, will defend her PhD thesis on the 3th of February into this very subject, during which she drew a number of interesting conclusions. For her research, Eikelenboom conducted two large scale surveys and actively collaborated with housing associations in Friesland to investigate how new collaborations with local communities could be established.

The benefits of engaging in new collaborations

The research showed that enterprises need to interact and collaborate with a diverse set of stakeholders, including suppliers, customers, competitors, knowledge institutions, governmental organizations and local communities. Manon Eikelenboom explains: ‘This can bring several advantages including the ability to overcome resource constraints, develop strategies and solutions that the enterprise could not have developed alone, and increase acceptance and support.’

Building sustainable and circular networks can be challenging as enterprises need to transform their capabilities and adjust managerial mindsets. However, enterprises should realize that not doing so can be detrimental. It may result in high costs in later stages due to the development of circular strategies that are unable to achieve their long-term environmental benefits. Manon Eikelenboom says: ‘For example, circular houses may be built that are not desirable to customers, leading to their early deconstruction and thus not resulting in sustainable outcomes.’

Collaborating with local communities in circular strategies

In her thesis, Eikelenboom highlights that enterprises should extend their view beyond environmental and technical perspectives in their circular strategies. Including social perspectives is important in order to create acceptance for circular strategies, reduce rebound effects, increase inclusivity, and create shared circular approaches which provide economic, social and ecological benefits. This can be achieved when enterprises focus on an early and active involvement of local communities in their circular strategies. For example, in her research Eikelenboom investigated a project where community members were involved in the collection and upcycling of otherwise wasted materials. People in the neighbourhood assisted for instance in decorating the local stadium with flowers that would otherwise have been wasted.

The defense will be held in the City Hall of the Municipality of Leeuwarden at 16.15 and will be streamed via YouTube. Click on the blue button below to join.
Dissertation download

About Manon Eikelenboom

Manon Eikelenboom studied Global Economics and Management at the University of Groningen and started her PhD at the Centre for Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Leeuwarden in 2017. She is currently working on a post doc at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on circular transitions in the construction sector.

Last modified:27 June 2022 11.54 a.m.
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