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From singular to plural: exploring organisational complexities and circular business model design

Esben Rahbek Gjerdrum Pedersen (CBS Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
Rebecca Earley (Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London, London, UK)
Kirsti Reitan Andersen (MSC, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

ISSN: 1361-2026

Article publication date: 11 June 2019

Issue publication date: 9 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to discuss how organisational complexities influence the design of circular business models, which have recently been introduced as a new panacea for aligning the interests of business with the needs of the environment.


The Service Shirt, a new garment concept, is used as an illustrative case example for demonstrating some of the organisational complexities of making circular business models operable. The shirt was developed through a series of design workshops for the fashion brand Fashion Alpha.


The analysis highlights multiple challenges emerging when a fashion product with a significantly extended lifecycle passes through different users, organisations and business models. It is concluded that it is difficult to talk about a circular business model (singular) as circular economy solutions depend on the contributions of multiple stakeholders with business models.

Practical implications

The findings illustrate how fashion companies interested in the circular economy fundamentally have to rethink conventional approaches to value, organisational boundaries and temporality.


Drawing on a case example from the fashion industry, the paper demonstrates the organisational complexities linked to the design of new business models based on circular economy thinking, as these require the coordination of actions between autonomous actors driven by different logics regarding value creation, value delivery and value capture.



This research has been supported by Mistra Future Fashion.


Pedersen, E.R.G., Earley, R. and Andersen, K.R. (2019), "From singular to plural: exploring organisational complexities and circular business model design", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 308-326.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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