A systematic literature review on collaboration in circular economy

Belal M. Bani Yassin*, Jelena V. Vlajic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The potential of a circular economy (CE) to improve the economic and environmental performance of supply chains has captured the interest of academics and practitioners. Recent studies indicate that collaboration is one of the key pillars of the CE, enabling its benefits to spread along and beyond the supply chain. Most studies that focus on collaboration issues in the context of the CE are in the early stages of development, and in many, collaboration is not the focus of the study but only a side element to the discussion. This paper presents a systematic review of the literature on collaboration in the CE and considers the extent to which research studies provide insights on collaboration in the CE and its contribution to enhanced sustainability of supply chains.

We conducted a systematic search of the business studies databases Scopus, Business Source Premier, and ABI/INFORM for academic articles published from 1998 to October 2019 which discuss or analyse collaboration in the context of CE practices: resource reduction, reuse, remanufacturing, recycling, and eco-design. To select articles, the following keywords were used: circular economy, industrial symbiosis, eco-design, remanufacture, collaboration, cooperation, coordination, and alliance. The search generated 89 articles. To perform content analysis, we considered the following dimensions of collaboration derived from the literature (Austin & Seitanidi, 2012; Bahinipati & Deshmukh, 2014; Ghisellini et al., 2016; Masi et al., 2018; Mason et al., 2007; Vereecke & Muylle, 2006): types of collaboration, the levels within the CE where collaboration is used, and effects of collaboration on the performance of a supply chain and its individual members.

Studies on the boundaries, bridges, barriers and benefits of various types and levels of collaboration significantly contribute to existing knowledge on collaboration and the CE. While there is a large body of knowledge on collaboration and on the CE, few studies focused on both. In particular, we found a gap in the literature in terms of studies that explore collaboration on the macro level of the CE and between organizations at the same level in the supply chain, i.e. horizontal collaboration. Additionally, we found that despite the growing number of studies that examine the effects of collaboration in the CE on the economic and environmental performance of organizations and their supply chains, only in a few studies was relational and structural economic performance discussed in conjunction with social performance.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 06 Jul 2020
EventConference of the International Society for the Circular Economy
- Online, Exeter, United Kingdom
Duration: 06 Jul 202007 Jul 2022
Conference number: 1


ConferenceConference of the International Society for the Circular Economy
Abbreviated titleIS4CE
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • circular economy practices
  • By-product
  • Sustainability
  • types of collaboration
  • levels of collaboration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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  • Sustainability (Journal)

    Jelena Vlajic (Guest editor), Mark Wever (Guest editor), Hsin-I. Hsiao (Guest editor) & Hualiang Lu (Guest editor)

    15 Jun 202215 Jun 2023

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

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