Circular Business Models are proclaimed by political institutions, multinational companies, management consulting firms and parts of the scientific community as a promising and attractive business concept to actively meet the challenges of the Anthropocene, such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and scarcity of natural resources. It is argued that Circular Business Models contribute to the holistic and radical restructuring of entrepreneurial value creation logics, which have the potential to establish a mutually influential system of sustainable production and nature-conserving consumption. Can Circular Business Models indeed be described as “holistic” and “radical”, especially against the background of the profound structural and paradigmatic social changes that appear indispensable if economic activities are to be organized in such a way that they do not cross planetary boundaries?
The article by Florian Hofmann is a methodologically guided reflection of the scientific literature on Circular Business Models.
The article can be viewed and downloaded here free of charge until 17 May.
Hofmann, Florian (2019): Circular business models: Business approach as driver or obstructer of sustainability transitions? Journal of Cleaner Production 224 (2019), 361 – 374.
Modular electronic products are often referred to as a strategy to promote long service lives, greater product commitment, and lower resource consumption. The article by Marina Proske and Melanie Jaeger-Erben in the “Journal of Cleaner Production” uses the example of a smartphone to look at various potential modularity concepts at a glance: their functionalities, their influence on the human-object relationship and their Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). It combines engineering and social science perspectives.
The contribution can be downloaded here until 8 May free of charge.
Proske/ Jaeger-Erben (2019). Decreasing obsolescence with modular smartphones? – An interdisciplinary perspective on lifecycles, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 223, Pages 57-66,
Following a lecture by Prof. Melanie Jaeger-Erben in the context of the lecture series “New Technologies” at the TU Berlin, students at the Institute for Work Education and Work Theory produced a short video clip on OHA.
Link to video on youtube (in German)
Many thanks to the students Linnea Bucher and Sebastian Bamberg and their lecturer Prof. Hans-Liudger Dienel!
On September 25, the junior research group Obsolescence organized an expert discussion on the topic of discontinuation of electronic assemblies, which was attended by over 100 industry representatives, most of whom are organized in the Component Obsolescence Group.
While obsolescence has been brought into society and discussed in recent years, particularly in the media through aspects such as planned obsolescence or planned wear and tear, today it is the leading technology media that are including the phenomenon of obsolescence in their headlines. After all, the standards in electronics are now set by consumer electronics and no longer by automotive engineering. As a manufacturer of capital goods in particular in the fields of automotive engineering, medical technology and plant and mechanical engineering, Germany is dependent on parts from suppliers from all over the world. If the supply stops, production stops. The greatest challenges German companies face today include the service and repair of products. But also for ongoing production, components are becoming increasingly unavailable and solutions must be found quickly, which are increasingly left unsolved at national and European level. Problems arise in particular with active components that can calculate or store, and with displays. Driven by various factors, changes are made to components every year, leading to the discontinuation of current production. The problems, which have so far only been discussed in the B2B (business-to-business) sector, are increasingly turning into an environmental problem, as a circular economy is impeded. Repair, reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing are only possible in a circular society if components are made available on a long-term basis to restore functions. Almost all industry representatives filled out an online questionnaire after the technical discussion, which is currently being evaluated by the research group in order to better understand obsolescence in the B2B sector.
On 17 and 18 November, the conference „Bits & Bäume“ will take place at the Technical University of Berlin, addressing the different scenes, actors, organisations and interfaces in the discourse on sustainability and digitisation. It will examine the key question of how digitisation can contribute to the socio-ecological transformation of society and especially the economy. Florian Hofmann and Jakob Zwiers (Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment) offer a creative workshop at “Bits & Trees” entitled “Circular Society – A pluralistic and emancipatory alternative to the circular economy”. After a short introduction, together with the participants the workshop will develop, discuss and reflect on elements of a Circular Society in order to design a vision of a democratic, digital as well as sustainable society based on the idea of circularity.
On 12.9.2018, we had the pleasure of welcoming representatives from business, research, culture and civil society to the Futurium Lab. Future sustainable life should be thought, experienced and shaped together. The workshop format could be realized for the first time as a cooperation project between the TU-Berlin, Fraunhofer IZM and the Futurium Berlin.
The workshops focused on “FUTURES THINKING” as a methodological approach on the one hand and “Value Creation in the Circular Society” as a thematic focus on the other.
Read more here.
On 24.09.2018 Florian Hofmann and the visual artist Markus Keibel conducted a public dialogue on the subject of obsolescence and metamorphosis. The two artists’ main areas of work and interest overlap in the overarching subject of the inevitable constant change of artifacts, structures and systems. Markus Keibel’s work deals with the constant changeability of thoughts, actions and matter, while Florian Hofmann researches changes in organisational value creation systems in the context of a socio-ecological transformation. The two discussed the possibilities and impossibilities of a systematic transformation of the economic, the role the visual arts can play in this, and whether and to what extent art and science can or should have a transformative effect on economy and society.
The discussion took place in the context of an exhibition of Markus Keibel’s current works at the Hotel “Alexander Plaza” in Berlin.
In Jahrbuch Nachhaltige Ökonomie 2018/19 a new contribution from the research group on the topic “Circular Economy als Träger zur sozial-ökologischen Transformation?” (Circular Economy as a driver of social-ecological transformation?) has been published. Florian Hofmann, Jakob Zwiers, Melanie Jaeger-Erben and Max Marwede discuss the potential of circular economy concepts for social-ecological transformation. Based on a critique of common approaches and business models of the circular economy, whose blind spot is mainly a neglect of social sustainability aspects, they develop the outline of a “Circular Society” and define four basic dimensions: 1) Accessibility and transparency, 2) Democratization, activation, empowerment, 3) Community, collaboration, solidarity, 4) Innovation and creativity.
Hofmann, Florian/ Zwiers/ Jakob, Jaeger-Erben, Melanie und Max Marwede (2018): Circular Economy als Träger sozial-ökologischer Transformation? In: Rogall. H. et al (2018): Jahrbuch Nachhaltige Ökonomie. 217-229.
What role does science play in sustainable development? Should scientists observe, support or specifically shape a social-ecological transformation? The term “transformative science” is the subject of a lively debate in the journal GAIA. The head of the research group Melanie Jaeger-Erben, together with other sustainability researchers, writes a plea for a more intensive observation and (scientific) theoretical description of the practice in real-life-laboratories and others.
Jaeger-Erben, Melanie & Nagy, Emilia & Schäfer, Martina & Süßbauer, Elisabeth & Zscheischler, Jana. (2018). Von der Programmatik zur Praxis: Plädoyer für eine Grounded Theory transformationsorientierter Forschung. GAIA – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society. 27. 117-121. Download.
On June 6, 2018 Tamina Hipp will give a lecture in the context of the SuCo2 event series at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Under the title “Always the latest or maintaining the usual – How do short and long useful lives of electronic devices come about?” the OHA member will present the current status of her dissertation. Based on the collected data material, types of practical forms were modelled which describe how the useful life – coupled to specific settings – is produced. This enables a differentiated perspective on the consumption of electronic products that goes beyond victim-perpetrator stereotypes.
Further information on the event can be found on the homepage: https://www.leuphana.de/institute/infu/arbeitsgruppe-konsum-kommunikation-suco2/veranstaltungsreihe.html