Circular-Oriented Innovation for Solving Grand Environmental Challenges: A Multiple-case Study

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


There is a critical need for innovator firms to tackle grand environmental challenges (GECs) with circular-oriented innovations. To address current shortcomings in theory and practice, we theorize how innovator firms with different strategic fit to business environment characterized by GECs succeed in innovating circular solutions and implementing required modifications at the micro-, meso- and macro-level over time. We conduct a qualitative multiple case study of eight cases with differing strategic fits to GEC-embedded context; “born circulars” and “circularity adopters”. We identify the key modifications, innovation types, and overall circular-oriented innovation processes to be followed by the two innovator firm types recognized in prior literature, and based on our findings, add a third type: “CE-identity finders.” Finally, we develop propositions that show the different ways innovator firms can succeed with their circular-oriented innovation processes depending on their strategic fit to GEC-embedded context, and provide managerial implications and future research avenues.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the XXXII ISPIM Innovation Conference
Subtitle of host publicationInnovating Our Common Future
EditorsIain Bitran, Steffen Conn, Chris Gernreich, Eelko Huizingh, Marko Torkkeli, Jialei Yang
PublisherLappeenrannan teknillinen yliopisto
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-335-467-8
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventISPIM Innovation Conference - Virtual Event, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 20 Jun 202123 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameLUT Scientific and Expertise Publications : Tutkimusraportit
ISSN (Print)2243-3376


ConferenceISPIM Innovation Conference
Internet address


  • Circular-oriented innovation
  • Sustainability-oriented innovation
  • Innovation process
  • Grand Environmental Challenges
  • Circular economy
  • Qualitative multiple-case study

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 0


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