Barriers to implementing circular economy learning processes in the construction sector: An analysis of Italian SMEs


  • Sara Scipioni University of Pisa
  • Lucio Todisco University of Naples Federico II
  • Federico Niccolini University of Pisa



Circular Economy, Business model, SMEs, barrier, Organizational Learning


This paper examines the application of circular economy (CE) solutions in the Italian construction sector, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Specific attention is given to identifying barriers that influence the development of organizational learning (OL) processes related to circular business model (CBM) implementation. Using a qualitative method informed by grounded theory, top managers’ perceptions in Italian construction SMEs were investigated using a focus group methodology. The data analysis followed a rigorous method for iterative coding and interpretation relying on the theoretical insights found in OL and CE literature. The study highlights CBM-oriented OL barriers in the external environment, the supply chain context, and individual organizations. In particular, the study identifies culture as a critical multilevel barrier embedded in the other three dimensions. The paper offers several theoretical, managerial, and policy implications, answering a call for CE-related studies in industrial contexts. It furthermore underlines the relevance of OL processes as an essential preliminary step for CBM implementation.


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How to Cite

Scipioni, S., Todisco, L., & Niccolini, F. (2021). Barriers to implementing circular economy learning processes in the construction sector: An analysis of Italian SMEs. Piccola Impresa / Small Business, (2).



Research Articles
Received 2020-07-31
Accepted 2021-01-22
Published 2021-01-22