InStreams workshop for researchers called for a better understanding of individual behaviour

Held in May 2022, the workshop “Creating value to society through circular economy” gathered a multidisciplinary group of researchers from the University of Oulu around the circular economy (CE) transition theme, and the role of academia in such endeavor. It was organized by members of the Value Streams and Productization research focus group, under the InStreams Hub’s umbrella of themes.

After a brief introduction of the InStreams Hub by Professor Pauliina Ulkuniemi from Oulu Business School’s Marketing, Management and International Business department, the workshop welcomed Leena Aarikka-Stenroos, a professor in Industrial Management from Tampere University with an academic career spanning 26 years. More recently she has been working as the consortium PI for CICAT - The joint project of Finnish Universities, Circular Economy Catalysts: From Innovation to Business Ecosystems.

Professor Aarikka-Stenroos’s presentation “Catalyzing Circular Economy transition via multidisciplinary collaboration” focused on the different drivers/catalysts for the CE transition, such as technology, business, language, regulation etc., and the lessons learned from research collaboration towards it. Discussion on her presentation surrounded the language used by CICAT and how circular economy vocabulary can be interpreted under the different lenses of knowledge.

The event continued with the presentation “Co-operation and networks to enhance circular economy: real-life cases” by Katri Luoma-Aho, the Circular Cluster Head for Business Oulu. Several examples of CE transition via company cooperation within Oulu region were highlighted, along with the business strategy behind them. Business Oulu latest project on the subject is called LIKE Circular Cluster, which is an open ecosystem where companies and research institutes co-develop solutions and new business models fit for circular economy. Some of the participating companies to date were Keko, Taitonetti, EcoUp, Manna Insect, Muovia, OWAtec, among others from Oulu region. During her presentation, Luoma-Aho explained they were in the process of including international networks to the cluster as well. The main goal for the workshop group activities was to encourage collaboration among its participants, who belonged to different departments within Oulu University. Researchers were asked to divide into smaller groups and agree on one major challenge preventing CE transition. They were then encouraged to pick a challenge another group came up with, and based on it, answer the question: How can researchers help CE transition by responding to these challenges?

The challenges emerged covered four different areas: restructuring of value chains, closing the loop collaboration between industries, lack of incentives to consumers and, personal habits/unwillingness to change. The possible ways to respond to those issues devised by the participants, however, were often boiled down to understanding individual behaviour of those involved in such transition.

This result is particularly interesting considering the multidisciplinary characteristic of the participating researchers, and the challenges brought up to discussion. Albeit brief, the group exercises have concluded that tackling behaviour could solve a variety of challenges in CE transition, along with a systematic approach involving multiple actors. On that final note, the workshop ended with a sense of understanding between researchers on the complexity of CE transition as a topic, but also, on all the benefits of multidisciplinary collaboration in addressing our common challenges.

For more information on workshop results and access to the presentations, please contact Doctoral Researcher Natalia Ferreira de Freitas at

Last updated: 29.9.2022