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Emerging consumer perspectives on circular economy


Abstract and Figures

The concept of circular economy has become a catchphrase for describing redesign of industries and economies towards better sustainability. The consideration of consumers holds a prominent role in the concept, yet consumers are not well accounted for in literature on circular economy. This paper takes a forward-looking approach to the relationship between consumers and circular economy. It reviews an extensive and systematically collected corpus of European citizen visions on desirable and sustainable futures from this perspective, and argues that the concept of circular economy should increasingly connect to energy issues and social topics, if it is to better embrace citizens' expectations on it.
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Paper presented at the 13th Nordic Environmental Social Science Conference HopefulNESS, 6.-
8.6.2017, Tampere, Finland.
Emerging consumer perspectives on circular economy
Petteri Repo & Markku Anttonen
University of Helsinki, Consumer Society Research Centre
The concept of circular economy has become a catchphrase for describing redesign of industries
and economies towards better sustainability. The consideration of consumers holds a prominent role
in the concept, yet consumers are not well accounted for in literature on circular economy. This
paper takes a forward-looking approach to the relationship between consumers and circular
economy. It reviews an extensive and systematically collected corpus of European citizen visions
on desirable and sustainable futures from this perspective, and argues that the concept of circular
economy should increasingly connect to energy issues and social topics, if it is to better embrace
citizens expectations on it.
1. Introduction
Circular economy has become a concept that encompasses a number of environmental issues of
interest such as restoration and regeneration of economy, rethinking of production and
consumption, and reduction of waste. Key institutional developments, such as the establishment of
the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015) and the adoption of the Circular Economy Package in the
European Union (Repo et al. 2015), account for consumers in their activities. The academic
community has at the same time shown interest in the concept of circular economy, and also
identified consumers as players in the concept.
Yet the role of consumers is not prominent nor uniform in either. While consumers are considered
as a part of the economy and in connection to the use of products, they are not seen as key actors,
goal-setters nor even as domesticators of new opportunities. For consumers to become active
players in the realm of circular economy, it is of particular importance to identify how they respond
to corresponding key elements of circular economy.
This paper develops a consumer centred view on circular economy through topic modelling. It starts
off from a review of academic literature on circular economy, identifying key elements of circular
economy: shared use of products, incentivised return, product design, waste reduction, and
sustainable food production. Then it proceeds to review how these elements come forth in 62
visions on desirable and sustainable futures, which have been developed by over 1.000 people in 30
European countries (Jørgensen & Schøning 2016). The visions are topic modelled with the
MALLET toolkit for natural languages (McCallum 2002), thereby identifying and describing
consumer perspectives on circular economy. Two key findings emerge in the analysis: 1) energy for
society is a key topic for circular economy to connect to and 2) social topics are much more
prevalent in visions than they are being discussed in academic literature on circular economy. The
concluding section summarizes the findings and discusses their relevance for the future of the
concept of circular economy.
2. Circular economy and consumer perspectives on it
The key aim of circular economy as a concept is to change current take-use-dispose economies
towards more ecologically and economically sustainable circular flows of natural resources, and to
decouple current levels of resource and energy usage from economic throughput (Ghisellini et al.
2016, Murray et al. 2015). Production loops should be as closed as possible, and material flows
should be pure to enable retaking them into manufacturing processes or biological cycles (Murray et
al. 2015). As such, the circular economy focuses on the economic and ecological aspects of
sustainability and is only little concerned with the social aspects of sustainable development
(Murray et al. 2015).
To achieve decoupling from current linear take-use-dispose economies, there are calls for better
industrial design and improved use of materials, which narrow down the material flows in
manufacturing, with cascading use of materials, i.e. products and materials moving from their
original use to other uses, or becoming resources for other industries (WEF 2014). This requires
that products should be designed or re-designed (Murray et al. 2015) to enable easy take-back of
resources into the manufacturing processes. Excess materials as such, and in products, then become
valuable assets to the companies.
In turn, manufacturing companies need greater control over and knowledge of materials, so these
can be reintroduced in manufacturing processes. This calls for advanced take-back and recycling
schemes accompanied by monetary incentives such as return payments for consumers and aligned
business models (Planing 2015).
Although the concept of circular economy focuses more on industry and the supply side, consumers
are an important part of the equation. In addition to industry needing to recover products and
materials for remanufacturing, other forms of innovative businesses and consumption (Hobson and
Lynch 2016) are needed for circular economy to thrive. Examples of such innovative businesses for
consumer include shared use of assets (car-sharing, power tools, etc.) and results-oriented services
(lighting rather than light bulbs) (Tukker 2015). This is warranted through the idea that consumers
embrace access and use of services instead of owning products as such (Hobson and Lynch 2016;
Tukker 2015). Also, diverse repair and refurbishing services are seen as a central way to prolong
product life and to narrow the throughput of materials in economy (Riisgaard et al. 2016). Such
innovative services offer opportunities for sustainable growth, and jobs alike (Murray et al. 2015).
A review of academic research on consumers and circular economy shows that the body of
literature represents only a fraction of the research on circular economy in general. A quick
literature search on published journal articles on circular economy produces a pool of 426 articles
(Scopus database, date 20161209). In contrast, refining the search to include both circular economy
and consumer(s), and excluding all articles that do not focus on consumers, consumption or
consumer society as such, produces a set of only 23 articles. Ten of these are empirical studies with
the remaining being more focused on conceptual questions , such as Hobson and Lynch (2016) who
argue for taking better into account the potential social implications of circular economy policies
and practices.
Most of the empirical studies focused on consumers’ attitudes towards repaired second hand
electronic device, or in two articles, second hand car parts (Matsumoto et al. 2016, Zhang et al.
2011). A majority of the reviewed articles analysed consumers’ willingness to buy and use second
hand devices, or in what way prior knowledge (Hazen et al. 2016), experiences (Mashhadi et al.
2016) or pricing (van Weelden et al. 2016; Yang & Wang 2011) may affect willingness to use them.
Also, the development of consumer repair services of mobile device markets have been analysed
(Riisgaard et al. 2016; Kissling 2013; Ongondo et al. 2013).
None of these studies analysed the development of different product services, which enable leasing,
renting, access (car-sharing, etc.) or desired outcome (for example installed lighting, clean clothes).
Commercial or peer-to-peer sharing was also absent, as were different take back and recycling
schemes for consumer goods. These subject areas connect either to an ample body (e.g. sustainable
consumption, product services) or fast-growing field (sharing economy), but they do not seem to
relate closely to the research on circular economy.
To sum up, consumer-related studies on the concept of circular economy and corresponding
empirical consumer studies contribute to five key issues of interest to look for in citizen visions on
desirable and sustainable futures: 1) shared use of products (for example car-sharing, outcome
oriented services), 2) incentivised return (take-back schemes such as those for used car tires and
plastic beverage bottles), 3) product design (making products better repairable and recyclable), 4)
waste reduction (retaking materials into industrial processes), and 5) sustainable food production
(material flows in biological processes).
3. Topic modelling circular economy from citizen visions
The analysed data has been collected from a set of 179 citizen visions on desirable and sustainable
futures extending to the year 2050. These visions were developed across 30 European countries in
the Cimulact project and involved more than 1000 citizens between November 2015 and January
2016 (Jørgensen & Schøning 2016). The visions consist of a title and a description of the content of
the vision as well as of how it differs from today and how it is desirable. The visions represent a
wide scope and range across 29 social needs (Warnke et al. 2016). The concepts of citizens and
consumers are in this paper interchangeably, reflecting that the obtained insights originate from lay
The authors selected visions relating to circular economy according to the 5 criteria emerging from
literature on consumers and circular economy: shared use of products, incentivised return, product
design, waste reduction, and sustainable food production. Both authors separately reviewed all 179
visions for sections corresponding to these criteria and evaluated these sections with three criteria
for selection: yes, perhaps, no. In the following stage both authors returned to those visions which
had received differing evaluations of which one was yes, and checked if their review remained
valid. Only those visions, which subsequently received two yes-reviews are included in the analysis.
This led to the analysis of 62 visions on desirable and sustainable futures, each of which include a
section corresponding to circular economy.
The selected visions are analysed by topic modelling with latent Dirichlet allocation, which is a
technique suitable for unstructured data (Blei et al. 2003). Patterns in the vision data are observed
using the MALLET machine learning toolkit for natural languages, (McCallum 2002). Topics, i.e.
probabilistic clusters of words, are identified in the data and provide integrating views on contents.
Observed topics relate to the full corpus of the 62 visions, which consists of the full texts of the
selected visions. Stop words and special characters have been removed from the corpus to improve
analysis, and capital letters have been replaced with lower case letters for the same reason. Topic
modelling requires a selection of the number of topics to be identified. The analysis is carried out
with 10 topics, after having piloted the analysis with 5, 10 and 15 topics. Modelling was carried out
with the optimisation interval of 20.
The results of the topic modelling indicate in which future contexts citizens consider circular
economy. They are representations rather than exact depictions and the process follows that of
discourse analysis, where focus is on beyond what is directly expressed in sentences. The applied
discourse analysis can be considered to be of ‘critical’ character in the sense that it focuses not only
on offering explanations, but also considers issues, problems and controversies (see Gee 2014;
Wodak 2009).
4. Ten topics for future circular economy
The findings emerging from the topic modelling provide 10 topics for future circular economy
(Table 1). Modelling provides key words appearing in a topic and its Dirichlet parameter which
indicates the weight of that topic in the corpus. The naming of the topics is performed by the
authors and relates to the clusters of keywords. The topics in order of weight are the following:
energy for society, balanced standards, cultural progress, healthy humanity, future choices, climate
threats, equal possibilities, policy mission, accessible opportunities, and clean systems.
The topic of Energy for society is of substantially more weight than the other nine topics. Thereby,
it should be considered an overarching facilitative topic, which connects to a number of activities
and issues such as energy, people, life, food, community, society, education, production and work.
Even when modelling the corpus with five and fifteen topics, energy for society emerges as the
same key topic. The finding can be considered specific for circular economy also because education
performs that same overarching role when analysing all 179 visions of which the 62 visions are a
subset (Repo et al. 2017).
Together with the topic of Climate threat, Energy for society are the only topics in which
consumption and consumers are directly addressed in their key words. Interestingly, neither overall
sustainability nor energy were amongst the criteria for selecting vision data for the analysed corpus,
which further highlights the importance of these topics.
Table 1. Ten topics for future circular economy
Key words in topic
1. Energy for society
energy people life food community society education production work
resources environment vision green nature social time consumption
ecological local water
2. Balanced standards
level accordance rural city workers conscious pierino members secure
leisure meat story common standard sustainable active vehicle triple
healthcare mix
3. Cultural progress
eat great consequences supporting cultural progress days built interests
alternatives group child replacing fair public case gardening species
polluters doubts
4. Healthy humanity
healthier higher global costs restrictions citizen professions problems
reduced large stylish humanity cohesive embedded ethics heart end
satisfaction set person
5. Future choices
modern children concern relation cars supported plastic walls holistic
volunteering close cultural favour squares codes civil developing
choices sense experiences
6. Climate threats
oil rooftop fish learning climate principle measures employment ensure
money generation town consumer scale customers actively meeting
programme start science
7. Equal possibilities
perspective possibilities ideas everyones equally sick ecologically lead
climate milk add herbs grandparents regional holders house racists
wanted auto accept
8. Policy mission
give balanced nowadays regions policy bodies dwelling technical
heritage quantum reserves mission typical democracy operating find
models differences valued benefit
9. Accessible
accessible universal educated remote farmers opportunities efficient part
main building people fruits corporate earlier lawn playing seas cleaner
wellbeing shower
10. Clean systems
part systems relationships clean adapted resist burden simple cleaner
interest virtuous success cradle street involvement integrate dialogue
immaterial wishes due
The topic of Balanced standards relates to finding appropriate solutions between differing contexts
such as rural areas and cities, and work and leisure. Cultural progress deals with eating, interests,
alternatives and fairness while considering doubts about biodiversity. Healthy humanity considers
health in terms of costs, restrictions, professions and problems. Future choices responds to a variety
of forward-looking selections having to do with relations, materials and senses. Equal possibilities
takes inclusion into account, pointing at everyone, acceptance and racism in relation to ecology and
climate. Policy mission pays attention to regions, institutional bodies, mission, democracy and
finding operating models. Accessible opportunities relate to accessibility, universality, education
and opportunities with a slight emphasis in the material world through farmers, fruits, lawns and
seas. Clean systems considers relationships between part of system, adaptation and resistance as
well as cleanliness.
Figure 1 visualises these topics according to the three dimensions of sustainability (ecological,
social and economic) and the dimension of technology which is evident as a background enabler
both the topics and the visions they originate from. When categorising the topics according to their
key and supporting dimensions (if any), four topics position in one dimensions (Energy for society,
Equal possibilities, Accessible opportunities / Social; Climate threats / Eco), one covers all four
(Balanced standards) with the remaining ranging over two (Cultural progress and Policy mission /
Eco & Social; Healthy humanity / Social & Economic; Future choices / Social & Techno; Clean
systems / Techno & Economic). The figure illustrates well how the citizens’ perspectives differ
from the accentuations of the standard concept of circular economy (Eco-Techno-Economic).
Figure 1. Topics illustrated in terms of sustainability (ecological, social and economic) and
All but two topics connect to the social dimensions of circular economy. Alongside the magnitude
of the energy topic which is also positioned socially, this is a key result of the analysis. The social
dimension is indeed highlighted in forward-looking consumer and citizen visions on desirable and
sustainable futures that relate to circular economy. In comparison, the ecological dimension plays a
subdued role.
Technology is often considered an enabler for new solutions, but it relates only to three topics. This
can be interpreted either to question the technological emphasis of circular economy or to leave it to
the industry of supply side to address. Similarly, the economic dimension draws little attention,
again accentuating the social character of circular economy in citizen visions.
5. Discussion
The concept of circular economy considers consumers, yet this connection has received limited
attention in academic literature. There is, in particular, a lack of empirical and consumer-centred
work on circular economy. This paper has responded to that knowledge gap by reviewing how
European citizen visions on desirable and sustainable futures relate to the concept of circular
economy. Visions were selected to be included in the analysed corpus according to the following
content criteria: shared use of products, incentivised return, product design, waste reduction, and
sustainable food production.
Applying the methodology of topic modelling to analyse the visions that relate to circular economy,
two consumer-centred key findings emerge: 1) energy is a key topic for the concept of circular
economy to connect to and 2) social aspects are very prevalent when people think of the future
opportunities of circular economy. These forward-looking discourses exhibit how people relate to
features included in the concept of circular economy (see Gee 2014; Wodak 2009), and do differ
from the standard concept, which accentuates ecological, technological and economic dimensions.
The findings exhibit forward-looking expectations citizens have on the concept of circular
economy. To stimulate the acceptance and take-up of the concept of circular economy amongst
citizens in Europe, it would seem worthwhile to highlight its relationship to challenges relating to
energy and social sustainability.
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The academic literature offers some insights about lagging progress on circular economy (CE) transition, including cultural, regulatory, market, and technical barriers. There is also an increasing body of knowledge about barriers to CE adoption that takes a macro-level perspective across industries. However, such studies have largely neglected the industry scale. This study fills that gap by examining barriers to CE transition in the Dutch technical and interior textiles industries. Using data from 27 interviews with manufacturers and retailers, the study finds that high costs for production and marketing, along with lack of consumer interest, are among the most substantial barriers. To provide a system-wide perspective, the study conceptualizes relationships among barriers as a chain reaction: limited knowledge of CE design options raises the difficulty and cost of delivering high-quality circular products at the firm level, while limited availability of circular supply streams combined with the orientation of existing production systems toward linear supply chains constrain CE transition at the industry level. These findings highlight the need for intervention at levels beyond the scale of individual firms, a key implication for public policy.
This chapter delves into the translation of the Circular Economy in the Swedish fashion industry, to what is increasingly becoming known as Circular Fashion. A literature overview of these concepts highlights that the concepts have primarily been developed by practitioners. Further, the chapter identifies a number of important actors in the translation of Circular Fashion in the Swedish fashion industry: companies, government, and NGOs. Corporate reports and social media, government proposals and enquiries as well as NGO reports are reviewed in order to elucidate how circular economy and its practices are translated by these different actors. It is found that fashion MNCs predominantly translate production aspects in relation to Circular Economy, whereas SMEs to a greater extent appear to stress consumption aspects. New market actors providing sharing or consumer-to-consumer services tend to translate circularity as prolonged product life, without addressing the need for shifting and reducing consumption practices. Government actors focus on the coupling between Swedish industry competitiveness and Circular Fashion, emphasizing the importance of circularity in designer and post-purchase practices. NGOs instead emphasize the importance of both reducing consumption as well as improving production practices. These varying foci highlight the selective nature of adaptations and simultaneous translations occurring of Circular Fashion. Particularly, production aspects that contribute to the dual goals of legitimacy and profitability dominate. Consumption aspects of care and repair, as well as of reduction are rarely emphasized and uphold a linear system deemed obsolete. Thereby, Circular Fashion has not yet been institutionalized.
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Throughout the world, demographic, economic, and technological trends have accelerated our ability to knowingly and unknowingly change the environment in which we live. These changes are now forcing us to reconsider our relationship with natural resources and consider alternative frameworks that support resource recovery, inclusive policy frameworks, and sustainable economic design. Following a global waste trade recycling ban in early 2018, this thesis directly addresses international waste management in order to understand alternative material recovery techniques that could aid in the sustainable production of cellulose-based building components. This project identifies conventional solid waste management strategies and adopts an integrated systematic approach to help not only the processes that generate paper waste, but understand how second-generation materials could be reused, repurposed, and redistributed back into the social networks and economies of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Through a series of investigations and multiple field studies, this thesis explores new-found solutions for nano and micro-fibrillated paper fibre products that could be utilized and deployed in a variety of contexts in the developing world. While acknowledging the many complexities of this topic, this project embraces thinking that will generate new conversations on alternative material solutions, thereby provoking consumers, and industries alike to rethink what happens when we simply throw something away! This thesis and the research that follows is the culmination of over a year of international field work comprising of physical explorations, review of literature, and extensive collaboration conducted in Australia, Brazil, and at Carleton University.
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For the circular economy to be tenable, consumers need to not only return products after use, but also purchase products that are remanufactured. However, research finds that consumers have a poor opinion of remanufactured products and are typically not prepared to adopt them. Thus, development of the circular economy is dependent upon deeper understanding of consumers’ attitudes and behaviors. Research typically considers either micro-level or macro-level factors when assessing consumer perceptions of remanufactured products. The current research incorporates macro-level factors of price, government incentives, and environmental benefits with the moderating influence of micro-level consumer attitudes to examine consumers’ intention to switch from purchasing new products to remanufactured products. The findings suggest that a consumer’s attitude toward remanufactured products is an important moderating factor predicting consumer switching behavior to remanufactured products.
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Abstract Circular economy has gained increasing attention the last decade, and more often the main focus is on the large global circles addressing recycling of materials rather than the “inner circles” that address maintenance/repair and reuse. In this article we investigate one such inner circle ofthe circular economy namely repair of smartphones which extends the lifetime of products and adds to a local economy. Local repair of smartphones has increased in the resent years in Denmark. These loop-closing businesses not only extend the useful lifetime of smartphones; they also entail both environmental benefits and economic value creation. We map the extent ofthe repair sector and investigate the drivers and barriers for its emergence. The study builds on desk studies for identification of repair companiesand telephone interviews with 33 out of 90 identified companies. The mapping of the businessesshows that the repair of smartphones constitute viable business opportunities, and that the main driversarerelated to the economic business potentials as well as motivated entrepreneurs who spot a market potential.The study concludes that the local circular economy within smartphone repair is due to large consumer willingness-to-pay for repair and maintenance services, and this can extend the lifetime of the smartphones. There are some special characteristics that limit the possibility to apply the results directly to other product groups, but further analysis of how to facilitate repair shops within other product groups are interesting in order to facilitate the development of local circles in a circular economy not only in Denmark but also in other countries. Keywords: Circular economy; Smartphone;Repair; Remanufacturing.
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There have long been calls from industry for guidance in implementing strategies for sustainable development. The Circular Economy represents the most recent attempt to conceptualize the integration of economic activity and environmental wellbeing in a sustainable way. This set of ideas has been adopted by China as the basis of their economic development (included in both the 11th and the 12th ‘Five Year Plan’), escalating the concept in minds of western policymakers and NGOs. This paper traces the conceptualisations and origins of the Circular Economy, tracing its meanings, and exploring its antecedents in economics and ecology, and discusses how the Circular Economy has been operationalized in business and policy. The paper finds that while the Circular Economy places emphasis on the redesign of processes and cycling of materials, which may contribute to more sustainable business models, it also encapsulates tensions and limitations. These include an absence of the social dimension inherent in sustainable development that limits its ethical dimensions, and some unintended consequences. This leads us to propose a revised definition of the Circular Economy as “an economic model wherein planning, resourcing, procurement, production and reprocessing are designed and managed, as both process and output, to maximize ecosystem functioning and human well-being”.
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Purpose-The overall aim of this paper is to develop a new conceptual framework for business model innovation in a circular economy and to explore the reasons for consumer non-adoption of business models in this context. Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on existing work in mostly professional or for-business publications and develops a conceptual model by clustering and abstraction. For developing hypotheses on motives for consumer non-adoption the author refers to existing empirical research in various related fields. Findings – The first part of the paper demonstrates that, despite wording differences, a predominant agreement on a basic structure for new business models in a circular economy has emerged in the field. The second part provides evidence that the adoption of circular economy business models will depend upon changing consumer habits and routines by leveraging the impact of non-functional motives, as well as subjective and moral norms. Practical implications – For practitioners working on new innovative business models in the realm of the circular economy this paper provides a basic framework for clustering their concepts. By learning about consumer motives leading to non-adoption, this paper also provides support for designing better and more successful business models. Originality/value – This paper develops a new holistic framework for the emerging topic of circular economy business models.
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In this chapter, we first provide a brief 'story' – how it all began; then we pre-sent an overview of some important research agendas in CDA and discuss new challenges for CDA research. Secondly, we discuss the various theoretical and methodological approaches assembled in this volume from a sociological and epistemological perspective. 2 There, we focus mostly on three central and con-stitutive concepts: power, ideology and critique. We also, of course, summarize some of the salient principles which are constitutive of all approaches in CDA. In addition, we mention some important criticism which CDA has been con-fronted with in the past years (see Billig, 2003, 2008; Chilton, 2007; Chilton and Wodak, 2007;Wodak and Cillia, 2006 for an extensive discussion of this issue). The terms Critical Linguistics (CL) and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) are often used interchangeably. In fact, recently, the term CDA seems to have been preferred and is being used to denote the theory formerly identified as CL.Therefore, we will continue to use CDA exclusively here (see Anthonissen, 2001; Chilton and Wodak, 2007 for an extensive discussion of these terms and their history). The manifold roots of CDA lie in Rhetoric, Text linguistics, Anthropology, Philosophy, Socio-Psychology, Cognitive Science, Literary Studies and Sociolinguistics, as well as in Applied Linguistics and Pragmatics. Wodak-3795-Ch-01:Wodak-3795-Ch-01.QXP 9/29/2008 4:29 PM Page 1 Nowadays, some scholars prefer the term Critical Discourse Studies (CDS). For example,Teun van Dijk provides us with a broad overview of the field of (C)DS, where one can identify the following developments: between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s, new, closely related disciplines emerged in the humanities and the social sciences. Despite their different disciplinary backgrounds and a great diver-sity of methods and objects of investigation, some parts of the new fields/paradigms/linguistic sub-disciplines of semiotics, pragmatics, psycho-and sociolinguistics, ethnography of speaking, conversation analysis and discourse studies all deal with discourse and have at least seven dimensions in common (see Van Dijk, 2007a;Wodak, 2008a): • an interest in the properties of 'naturally occurring' language use by real language users (instead of a study of abstract language systems and invented examples) • a focus on larger units than isolated words and sentences and, hence, new basic units of analysis: texts, discourses, conversations, speech acts, or communicative events • the extension of linguistics beyond sentence grammar towards a study of action and interaction • the extension to non-verbal (semiotic, multimodal, visual) aspects of interaction and communication: gestures, images, film, the internet, and multimedia • a focus on dynamic (socio)-cognitive or interactional moves and strategies • the study of the functions of (social, cultural, situative and cognitive) contexts of language use • an analysis of a vast number of phenomena of text grammar and language use: coher-ence, anaphora, topics, macrostructures, speech acts, interactions, turn-taking, signs, politeness, argumentation, rhetoric, mental models, and many other aspects of text and discourse.
This study compares U.S. and Japanese consumers’ perceptions of remanufactured auto parts. Remanufactured parts have a long history and enjoy continuing success in the U.S. domestic aftermarket. In contrast, although Japan's domestic aftermarket is growing, it remains comparatively underdeveloped. This research examines whether customers’ perceptions of remanufactured products explain their lower acceptance in Japan. Our Internet survey of 440 U.S. and 300 Japanese respondents examined their knowledge of remanufactured auto parts, perceptions of their benefits and risks, and price consciousness. The results reveal that Japanese consumers know less about remanufactured products, perceiving them as entailing lower benefits and greater risk, especially concerning quality, and are less price conscious. Drawing on its results, this study suggests measures to promote markets for remanufactured auto parts in Japan and in economies in which such markets are in an early stage of development.
In the transition towards a circular economy, refurbishment can be applied to regain value from used products, and to reduce waste. Refurbishment is a process in which a professional company collects and restores used products in order to resell these products to new consumers. Building on insights from the remanufacturing literature, this research is the first to provide a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence consumer acceptance of refurbished products, and in specific refurbished mobile phones. We adopted a qualitative approach using in-depth interviews with consumers (n = 20) of new and refurbished phones to gain rich insights into consumers' considerations that play a role in the choice of a refurbished product over a new product. This paper maps out the main factors that influence consumer acceptance of refurbished mobile phones. Our findings uncover that the majority of consumers do not take a refurbished product into consideration as a consequence of a lack of awareness and a misunderstanding of what refurbishment actually entails. In addition, refurbished products are often rejected as a consequence of a negative trade-off between perceived risks and benefits. Personal, contextual and product-related factors have been identified that influence consumers' assessment of a refurbished product's risks and benefits. Finally, the findings have been translated into practical guidelines for designers and marketers to positively steer consumer perception of refurbished products.
Since the 1990s, Product Service Systems (PSS) have been heralded as one of the most effective instruments for moving society towards a resource-efficient, circular economy and creating a much-needed ‘resource revolution’. This paper reviews the literature on PSS in the last decade and compares the findings with those from an earlier review in this journal in 2006. Close to 300 relevant papers were identified, over 140 of which have been referenced in this review. Research in the field of PSS has become more prolific, with the output of refereed papers quadrupling since 2000, while on average scientific output has only doubled. PSS has also become embedded in a wider range of science fields (such as manufacturing, ICT, business management, and design) and geographical regions (Asia now produces more papers than Europe). The literature of the last seven years has refined insights with regard to the design of PSS, as well as their business and environmental benefits, and confirmed the definitions and PSS concepts already available in 2006. A major contribution of the recent literature is research into how firms have implemented PSS in their organization and what the key success factors and issues that require special attention are (such as a focus on product availability for clients; an emphasis on diversity in terms of services provided rather than the range of products; and the need for staff to possess both knowledge of the product and relationship management skills). The reasons why PSS have nonetheless still not been widely implemented, particularly in the B2C context, seem to have already been explained fairly well in the literature available in 2006. For consumers, having control over things, artifacts, and life itself is one of the most valued attributes. PSS are often less accessible, or have less intangible value, than the competing product, in part because PSS usually do not allow consumers as much behavioral freedom or even leave them with the impression that the PSS provider could prescribe how they should behave.