Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Transferring Circular Economy Solutions across Differentiated Territories: Understanding and Overcoming the Barriers for Knowledge Transfer

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Abstract:  “Learning from abroad” is a widely recognised and used means to innovate and improve strategies and policies implemented by regions and cities. However, literature on knowledge transfer and related concepts, such as policy transfer, policy mobility or lesson-drawing, highlights the limitations of this process, especially when it entails the simple transfer of (best) practices from “place A” to “place B”. Such a transfer may lead to suboptimal solutions particularly when the imported practices concern complex phenomena, involving networks of multiple actors and relying on place-specific dynamics. Departing from this critique, the article sheds light on the process of knowledge transfer in the field of circular economy, taking place between the two metropolitan regions of Amsterdam and Naples. This process is guided by an innovative methodology based on a network of (peri-urban) living labs generating eco-innovative solutions for using material waste and wastescapes as a resource in peri-urban areas. Using participant observation in knowledge transfer workshops, stakeholder interviews and surveys, it investigates how the process of co-creation of knowledge in the relational space of the networked living labs takes place thanks to the participation of stakeholders from both regions. This in turn allows for drawing conclusions on what barriers are encountered in such knowledge transfer, what makes solutions transferable across different contexts, and, finally, how the solutions are adapted as they travel from one place to another.

Keywords:  Amsterdam; circular economy; eco-innovative solutions; knowledge transfer; living labs; Naples; policy mobility; policy transfer; policy translation


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© Marcin Dąbrowski, Viktor Varjú, Libera Amenta. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.