The Circular Capability Framework: Adopting Circular Economy in the Agri-food Supply Chain

  • Niken Palupi Kusumo Wardani

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis aims to explain the mechanisms of how the agri-food supply chains in the developing world adopt Circular Economy (CE) to tackle food loss and waste (FLW) and the capabilities and resources they need to possess. The main contribution of this thesis lies in identifying the resource of strategic capabilities of Natural Resource-Based View (NRBV) as the antecedents of CE principles that have not been discussed in the literature, and thereby this thesis proposes the Circular Capability Framework. This thesis adheres to the critical realism paradigm as well as a natural resource-based view perspective. A multiple case study design was also adopted to elaborate on the theory. The research strategy employed a combination of retroductive-abductive reasoning and basic qualitative description. Twenty cases of agri-food supply chains are selected using purposive sampling in Indonesia comprises upstream, midstream, and downstream stages. The data were gathered using semi-structured interviews triangulation, site visits, in addition to supporting documents, such as company websites and archives from previous research. Analysis is then conducted using within-case and cross-case template analyses. The thesis explains three strategies of NRBV and identifies the deployment of capabilities of its resources at the operational level and the links to CE principles. The strategy is interdependent between pollution prevention and product stewardship, but they are not path-dependent. Therefore, NRBV that was initially postulated as sequential is not valid in this context. Unlike pollution prevention and product stewardship that are interdependent, sustainable development, which consists of two aspects such as technology innovation and social which aims to alleviate the poor, are considered separate from these two strategies. Most of the actors do not rely on sophisticated technology; adopting technology is not favourable due to high investment. The use of technology that is by investing in tomorrow’s technology to reduce environmental impact is influenced by external pressure. Consistent with theory elaborating to remain receptive with data, this thesis found unanticipated findings of the digital technology adoption that is prevalent across supply chains. Social aspect is not feasible to be the main avenue in developing a new market but rather as the social responsibility and inclusiveness of the community into the business. As a result, social responsibility is one of the principles that need to be augmented as part of relevant CE principles in tackling FLW. The main barrier is found to be lack of knowledge, structural, and financial that hindered the CE principles to be implemented. Whilst offering practicality by generating framework for CE adoption and conceptually relevant knowledge to the agri-food supply chain literature, the use of the NRBV theory offers a novel perspective by conceptualising the Circular Capability framework in the agri-food supply chain that extends the existing discussion on the adoption of CE in the biological cycle and provide opportunities for future research.
    Date of AwardApr 2022
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorBenny Tjahjono (Supervisor), Jordon Lazell (Supervisor) & David Bek (Supervisor)


    • Agri-food supply chain
    • Case study
    • Circular economy
    • Critical realism
    • Natural resource-based view,
    • Qualitative research

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