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Circular start-up development: the case of positive impact entrepreneurship in Poland

Boleslaw Rok (Positive Entrepreneurship Research Lab, Kozminski University, Warsaw, Poland)
Monika Kulik (Department of Management, Kozminski University, Warsaw, Poland)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 11 November 2020

Issue publication date: 8 March 2021




The purpose of this paper is to explore how circular start-ups design and implement innovation into their business models to increase their positive impact.


This qualitative study is based on an exploratory multiple-case study involving six circular start-ups with positive impact in Poland. Data gathering took place via in-depth interviews with start-up founders.


The analysis demonstrates that three factors, which are strongly interconnected, can significantly influence the development of a circular start-up. The first is the purpose-led motivation for circularity as a solution, mostly concentrated on the environmental education of different market actors. The second factor is built on the aim to increase the positive impact by addressing the most pressing social and environmental problems. It determines the impact on society as well as on the environment and the extent to which its model can be scaled up. The third factor is driven by the understanding of the purpose of the innovation, concentrated on the business model innovation regarding circularity.

Practical implications

This paper demonstrates the benefits for diverse stakeholders and the importance of using circular business models in start-up development. Circularity can be perceived as a main part of the new approach to improve sustainability.


Circular start-ups represent a new phenomenon in the entrepreneurial market. While the structure and logic of the circular business model in start-ups are significantly unexplored in the management literature, this model is viewed as a crucial step in the direction of increasing the positive impact of start-ups. From a theoretical and practical perspective, it is important to understand the differences and similarities in this area within different markets.



Rok, B. and Kulik, M. (2021), "Circular start-up development: the case of positive impact entrepreneurship in Poland", Corporate Governance, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 339-358.



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