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Drivers and barriers to circular economy implementation: An explorative study in Pakistan’s automobile industry

Martin Agyemang (Faculty of Management and Economics, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, PR China)
Simonov Kusi-Sarpong (Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK) (Eco-Engineering and Management Consult Limited, Accra, Ghana)
Sharfuddin Ahmed Khan (Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management Department, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Venkatesh Mani (Montpellier Business School, Montpellier, France)
Syed Tahaur Rehman (NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, Pakistan)
Horsten Kusi-Sarpong (Eco-Engineering and Management Consult Limited, Accra, Ghana)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 2 January 2019

Issue publication date: 8 April 2019




Circular economy (CE) has gained considerable attention from researchers and practitioners over the past few years because of its potential social and environmental benefits. However, limited attention has been given in the literature to explore the drivers and barriers in CE implementation in emerging and developing countries besides China. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to identify the drivers and barriers to implementing a CE in Pakistan’s automobile manufacturing industry.


This study adopts an explorative approach to understand the drivers and barriers at the micro-level CE implementation in Pakistan’s automobile industry. The research design includes both qualitative and quantitative methods using a survey instrument and interviews to gather data. The use of the two main sources of data provides the opportunity for triangulation of the data to improve the validity of the findings, and enables greater inferences from the results.


This study shows that “profitability/market share/benefit” (30 percent), “cost reduction” (22 percent) and “business principle/concern for environment/appreciation” (19 percent) are the top three drivers. Similarly, “unawareness” (22 percent), “cost and financial constraint” (20 percent) and “lack of expertise” (17 percent) are the top three barriers in implementing CE principles in Pakistan automobiles industry.

Research limitations/implications

This study considers only Pakistan automobiles industry, and the practical implications potentially limit to emerging Asian economies.


This study is the first of its kind that has investigated the drivers and barriers of CE at the organizational level in the automobile industry of Pakistan. Thus, it helps to advance the understanding of the subject matter and enables the formulation of effective policies and business strategies by practitioners for upscaling CE and sustainability.



Agyemang, M., Kusi-Sarpong, S., Khan, S.A., Mani, V., Rehman, S.T. and Kusi-Sarpong, H. (2019), "Drivers and barriers to circular economy implementation: An explorative study in Pakistan’s automobile industry", Management Decision, Vol. 57 No. 4, pp. 971-994.



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