Polycentric Governance of Privately Owned Resources in Circular Economy Systems

Samuli Patala, Laura Albareda, Minna Halme

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientificpeer-review


We present an empirical study of three circular economy systems in Finland, the United States, and Spain. On this basis we elaborate a new theory for polycentric governance of privately owned resources, expanding on Ostrom’s (2014) traditional analysis of the governance of common-pool resources. Our focus is to explore how polycentric governance emerges through mechanisms of collective action with businesses, public sector and societal actors. The empirical findings suggest that polycentric governance emerges to address challenges arising from information asymmetries and scale inefficiencies in insular systems with multiple independent governance units. It unfolds through processes of mutual adjustment and the building of mechanisms for collective agency, which lead to gradual hybridization. This leads to new, hybrid governance arrangements and more broadly-based ownership of resources. Our findings make important contributions to the literature on system-level governance for sustainability, hybrid organization, and the resource-based view of the firm. We conclude by discussing how the theory of polycentric governance can advance development of circular economy in systems composed of privately-owned resources.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2018
EventAcademy of Management Annual Meeting: Improving Lives - Chicago, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201814 Aug 2018
Conference number: 78


ConferenceAcademy of Management Annual Meeting
Abbreviated titleAOM
CountryUnited States

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    Patala, S., Albareda, L., & Halme, M. (2018). Polycentric Governance of Privately Owned Resources in Circular Economy Systems. Abstract from Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Chicago, United States. https://doi.org/10.5465/AMBPP.2018.155