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Morphogenesis of Industrial Symbiotic Networks

Erika Džajić Uršič

The study deals with Industrial Symbiosis (IS), a term used to describe a network of diverse organizations that make use of different by-products to improve their facility to achieve common goals, improve environmental conditions or improve business and technical processes. Industrial symbiosis is understood as a technological material as well as a social relationship between so-called social actors, which are involved in the exchange of secondary resources.

The author proposes a model for the evaluation of the possibilities to establish such industrial symbiosis with a study benchmark of seven industrial symbiotic examples used to build a qualitative multi-criteria decision model for the evaluation of the industrial symbiotic network model. With the data obtained from the best-known industrial symbiotic cases in the world, the author examines the importance of social actors’ involvement in industrial symbiosis both in their industrial and non-industrial technological processes.

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5 Methodological framework


To answer the research questions and to define the hypothesis, a methodological framework has been developed. In this way, it is possible to analyse how industrial symbiotic networks develop. Using the detailed material of case studies, information can be gleaned about barriers, activities, social driving forces, and motivation approaches. Within these case studies, the theories of the development of industrial symbiotic networks will be used to define the specific changes in such systems. The theory functions therefore as a template to extract the significant data out of the case studies to detect the important facts that are significant for industrial symbiotic networks approaches.

The research departs from a fundamentally constructivist-interpretations paradigm. Preliminary literature overview shows that academic interest in industrial symbiosis was raised by examples of cooperating firms in practice in the second half of the 20th century. Nowadays a considerable number of case studies are available in literature from different countries. So, there is some contradiction on how industrial symbiosis is described in literature with its interpretation being the subject of critical discussions in published or issued researches (Baas and Boons 2007).

Most of the initial contributions focused on the engineering and technical feasibility of the exchanges, whereas social elements remained mostly unaddressed. We think that the missing gap in the literature is the branch of metaphysics (philosophy concerning the overall nature of what things are). It is concerned with identifying, in the most general terms, the kinds of things that exist in...

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