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Dissertation Topic 1:
The relationship between sustainability and the Circular Economy and the impacts of this upon business models and innovation
The increased awareness of the concepts of the Circular Economy and sustainability have become part of the debate on the challenges of, and the need to find solutions to, the impact of production and consumption methods on the environment (such as waste, pollution and environmental degradation) and society (such as human rights, intra and inter-generational equity and justice) (Geissdoerfer et al 2017; Moreno et al 2016). The relationship between sustainability and the Circular Economy can be explored through the similarities and differences between the two concepts and this presents sustainability as a broader concept concerned with integrating economic, societal and environmental factors; whilst the Circular Economy is presented as having an economic perspective which in turn provides a benefit to society and the environment (Geissdoerfer et al 2017).
Sustainability is therefore focused upon the need to address how current societal needs can be met without compromising future societal needs (Crane and Matten 2016). One of the proposed solutions to this issue is the implementation of the Circular Economy which undertakes a restorative and regenerative cradle-to-cradle approach (Moreno et al 2016; Braungart and McDonough 2009). Whilst both sustainability and the Circular Economy are presented as potential solutions to the economic, societal and environmental challenges, there is a lack of clarity of both of the concepts and the relationship between the two and this provides a research gap for further investigation (Geissdoerfer et al 2017). Based upon this research gap, this dissertation topic will therefore seek to contribute to the current level of academic research to explore the relationship between the circular economy and sustainability by considering its impacts on business models and innovation. It is also hoped that this research will also provide a contribution to the practical application of these concepts within a business context.
Braungart, M. and McDonough, W. (2009) Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things (2nd ed.) London: Vintage
Crane, A. and Matten, D. (2016) Business Ethics: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability in the Age of Globalization (4th ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press
Geissdoerfer, M., Savaget, P., Bocken, N.M.P. and Hultink, E.J. (2017) ‘The Circular Economy: A new sustainability paradigm?’ Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol.143, pp.757-768
Moreno, M., De Ios Rias, C., Rowe, Z. and Charnley, F. (2016) ‘A conceptual framework for circular design’ Sustainability, Vol.8(9), pp.937-952
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Dissertation Topic 2:
An exploration of the challenges and opportunities of integrating a higher level of sustainability within Supply Chain Management: a case study of the UK car industry
This topic seeks to explore the challenges and opportunities of increasing the level of sustainable practices in Supply Chain Management by undertaking a case study of the UK car industry. The car industry has a number of areas in which sustainability can be addressed and these include the development of more environmentally friendly vehicles to reduce the level of emissions and pollution currently borne by society and the recycling of car parts to reduce waste within the supply chain (Rajeev et al 2017; Slack et al 2016; Junquera et al 2016; Turkey et al 2016).
The current level of research into the challenges and opportunities of integrating a higher level of sustainability within Supply Chain Management include the need to undertake a focus on specific industries, such as the UK car industry, and assess the current level of integration (Rajeev et al 2017; Wieland et al 2016). By focusing on Supply Chain Management, there is also the opportunity to evaluate the role of stakeholders within this such as suppliers, government and customers and to assess the level of interest and expectations of these as regards increased levels of sustainable practices within the UK car industry (Wieland et al 2016; Slack et al 2016). By undertaking a holistic approach to sustainability, which includes the economic, societal and environmental aspects, there is also the opportunity to develop an approach presents sustainability as a holistic process which should become part of Supply Chain Management, rather than being a piecemeal approach (Turkay et al 2016; Slack et al 2016). This dissertation will undertake a comparative case study approach to develop a greater understanding of the current level of integration between sustainability and Supply Chain Management and will this will apply frameworks such as the Circular Economy as a conceptual framework to further investigate the opportunities and challenges for this relationship (ACEA 2019; Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2017).
ACEA (2019) ‘Circular Economy.’ [online] Available from https://www.acea.be/industry-topics/tag/category/circular-economy
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2017) ‘Concept.’ [online] Available from https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept
Junquera, B., Moreno, B. and Alvarez, R. (2016) ‘Analysing consumer attitudes towards electric vehicle purchasing intentions in Spain: Technological limitations and vehicle confidence’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol.109, pp.6-14
Rajeev, A., Pati, R.K., Padhi, S.S. and Govindan, K. (2017) ‘Evolution of sustainability in supply chain management: A literature review.’ Journal of Cleaner Production Vol.162, pp.299-314
Türkay M, Saraçoğlu Ö, and Arslan MC (2016). Sustainability in Supply Chain Management: Aggregate Planning from Sustainability Perspective. PLoS ONE 11(1) [online] Available from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147502
Slack, N., Brandon-Jones, A. and Johnston, R. (2016) Operations Management. (8th ed.) Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd
Wieland, A., Handfield, R.B., and Durach, C.F. (2016) ‘Mapping the landscape of future research themes in supply chain management.’ Journal of Business Logistics Vol.37, pp.205-212
Dissertation Topic 3:
The potential impact and challenges of the Paris Climate Change
The issue of climate change has become a major challenge and the recognition of the importance of addressing this, on both a global and national level, has been demonstrated through the development of the Paris Climate Change Agreement (United National Climate Change 2019). This agreement has sought to develop a more robust and inclusive range of policies and targets for nearly all of the world’s countries to address through national policies and frameworks (Bodansky 2016; Streck et al 2016). The Paris Climate Change Agreement is therefore undertaking a collective approach to addressing the collective responsibility of reducing the risk of climate change and the detrimental impact which this has upon populations and issues such as food and water supply and security (Dobson 2016; Eggleton 2013)
This collective responsibility is being driven by the inclusion of reporting mechanisms which have been established to address the overall target of maintaining the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees (United Nations Climate Change 2019). These reporting mechanisms are also based upon the need for higher levels of transparency and accountability and are an important part of improved environmental politics (Dobson 2016).
This dissertation will therefore evaluate the current structure and progress of the Paris Agreement and this will include the potential additional activities in areas such as regulatory activities of governments and incentives for businesses to ensure that its targets are met (Dimitrov 2016; Streck et al 2016).
Bodansky, D. (2016) The Paris Climate Change Agreement: A New Hope? American Journal of International Law, Vol.110(2), pp.288-319
Dobson, A. (2016) Environmental politics: a very short introduction Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Eggleton, T. (2013) A short introduction to climate change (1st ed.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dimitrov, R.S. (2016) ‘The Paris Agreement on Climate Change: Behind Closed Doors’ Global Environmental Politics, Vol.16(3), pp.1-11
Streck, C., Keenlyside, P. and von Unger, M. (2016) ‘The Paris Agreement: A new beginning’ Journal for European Environmental and Planning Law, Vol.13(1), pp.3-29
United Nations Climate Change (2019) ‘What is the Paris Agreement?’ [online] Available from https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/what-is-the-paris-agreement
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