How did it come to be? Circular economy as collective stakeholder action

Laura Albareda, Jaan Pauli Kimpimäki

Research output: Book chapterChapterpeer-review


In this chapter, we provide a preliminary understanding of collective stakeholder action (CSA), drawing on the literature on stakeholder engagement and the theory of collective action. We conceptualise CSA as a process in which connecting and influential stakeholders engage with businesses, advancing the development of and experimentation with novel business practices towards a circular economy. Empirically, we study organisational narratives as a temporal discursive construction about the concept of a circular economy and how the focal stakeholders have contributed to its development. As the primary finding of our study, we identify four key sub-processes driving the process of CSA at large: (i) pragmatic translation, (ii) collective definition, (iii) amplification and legitimisation and (iv) building institutional infrastructure. Connecting stakeholders bridge actor groups and build coalitions around focal issues, while influential stakeholders help these coalitions obtain legitimacy and institutional support through performative refinements of core issues and understandings. Our conceptualisation of CSA contributes to the perspective of stakeholder engagement as part of collective action processes. In such processes, joint efforts are undertaken based on the initiative of focal stakeholders bringing together groups of firms, as opposed to focal firms bringing together groups of stakeholders. Our findings show that connecting stakeholders are in key positions to initiate CSA processes, while influential stakeholders are necessary to ensure successful completion.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStakeholder Engagement in a Sustainable Circular Economy
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical and Practical Perspectives
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9783031319372
ISBN (Print)9783031319365
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Circular economy
  • Collective action
  • Collective stakeholder action
  • Organisational narratives
  • Performativity
  • Stakeholder engagement


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