To create circular economies, we need supply systems to convey materials between their use lives. Often, though, it is not possible to control an entire supply network. Without a coordinator to implement circular economy principles, how can circular supply systems come to be? This chapter sets out to build on complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory and circular economy research to conceptualize how information flows between actors can facilitate the emergence of a circular supply system. It begins by outlining why a supply network can be considered a CAS, as well as the CAS progression from information to adaptation to emergence. Next, it argues that information on local supply networks, extended supply systems, and biosphere impacts is particularly important for circular production. Finally, it concludes with two potential types of emergence that can stem from these information flows: (1) new actor roles and networks and (2) new spatial and temporal patterns. Ultimately, this conceptual overview aims to give researchers and practitioners a CAS frame for thinking about how continual adaptation to information flows can enable change toward circular supply systems.
Miller, E.M. (2022), "No Rest for the Complex: Information Flows, Adaptation, and Emergence in Circular Supply Systems", Bals, L., Tate, W.L. and Ellram, L.M. (Ed.) Circular Economy Supply Chains: From Chains to Systems, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 49-65. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-83982-544-620221003
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