Enhancing Circular Economy Capabilities of Practitioners: An analysis of interventions that have proved effective at developing the Circular Economy (CE) implementation capabilities of practitioners
Humans face an existential threat from the effects of human-caused climate change (IPCC, 2023). Transitioning promptly to a Circular Economy (CE) will mitigate the climate related impact on people’s lives. This research, led by Cardiff Metropolitan University and funded by the Wales Innovation Network, analyses the interventions (programmes, courses, workshops, networks, Communities of Practice, etc.) that are available to practitioners in Wales and reports on their efficacy in terms of developing the CE understanding and implementation capabilities of practitioners. We aim to inform practitioners, academics, and policymakers of the effective pedagogical approaches to enhancing CE implementation capabilities of practitioners.
This report used expert discussions to develop a clear research strategy and to develop a critical and reflective narrative. A literature review was conducted to frame the current academic and grey literature that describes and analyses the pedagogical approaches to implementing CE principles. The review of existing interventions suggests that inter-organisational, challenge-led programmes that support co-production of CE solutions and develops regional CE eco-systems are more effective than traditional programmes and can accelerate the transition to a circular economy. Moreover, learning principles derived from socio-cultural learning theories are most appropriate for workplace learning.
The findings from the quantitiative data collected suggests that awareness of CE principles is low across all organisational sizes and sectors. A small minority of organisations have CE principles embedded within their strategy and very few have CE-related key performance indicators. Most organisations do not have a detailed CE implementation plan.
The qualitiative data findings suggest that most CE service or product providers have been set up by individuals motivated by social purpose who are passionate about supporting the transition to a CE and making a difference to their region (place). Their social purpose often promoted a workplace culture that encouraged innovation, via a distributed leadership approach (Parry & Bryman, 2006) that encouraged learning. The leadership style was dynamic and strategic, it leveraged social power to engage workers who often felt a strong sense of empowerment and personal engagement. The leaders often encouraged internal and external network engagement to share knowledge.
This report recommends research that further explores the learning processes and pedagogies that develop practitioners CE innovation skills is required. Contextualised CE interventions should be developed that account for the size and sector of organisations. Moreover, CE awareness-raising initiatives and CE practices development interventions should be prioritised by policymakers to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.