Uncovering the Role of the Industrial Symbiosis Facilitator in Literature and Practice in Nordic Countries: An Action-Skill Framework

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As a collective approach for achieving economic, environmental, and social effects, industrial symbiosis is considered an important tool to realize a circular economy. In both literature and practice, the need for a third party facilitating the development of these resource exchanges between companies has been highlighted. This paper explores the actions and skills needed for achieving successful facilitation of industrial symbiosis by unfolding the facilitator role. It develops an analytical action-skill framework by systematically examining the relevant literature and conducting an in-depth analysis of a Danish facilitation team, and tests the developed action-skill framework by analyzing experiences obtained from seven facilitators in Nordic countries. In doing so, the study reveals a variety of actions of the industrial symbiosis facilitator that can be identified across literature and practice, belonging to five overarching tasks: Developing linkages, coordinating, capacity & knowledge management, value assessment & distribution, and developing beneficial conditions & scaling up. The results indicate that we observe a role in the process of homogenization. Another contribution is the uncovering of industrial symbiosis facilitator skills. The paper points to five overarching skills that are relevant to the facilitator role: Social skills, work approach, motivation & interest, ethics & responsibility, and knowledge. Subsequently, eight specific tensions between the identified actions are discussed. These make the role of the industrial symbiosis facilitator skill demanding and context-dependent and show an additional, implicit skillset.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134652
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2022


  • Industrial symbiosis
  • actions
  • circular business models
  • circular economy
  • competencies
  • facilitator
  • industrial symbiosis facilitator
  • intermediaries
  • orchestrator
  • skills
  • systematic literature review


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