The role of circularity and partnerships for the development of product-service systems in the Dutch consumer electronics sector
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This thesis explores the Product-Service System (PSS) business model, in which a company offers a bundle of a product and a service to its customers. PSS offer potential for increased corporate sustainability, as with this business model, incentives for planned obsolescence are overcome. The following research questions guide this study: How do PSS business models and circular supply chains coevolve in the Dutch consumer electronics sector? What is the role of service network partnerships in this coevolution? By answering the research question, the literature on PSS and sustainable PSS is extended on the combination of the three concepts circular supply chains, PSS and partnerships. The research is performed by conducting 17 semi-structured interviews with incumbent consumer electronics companies, start-ups with a PSS business model, and experts in the field of PSS, all in The Netherlands. Grounded theory is used to analyse the data. This research finds that while companies launch the PSS business model based on different drivers, most companies start working towards the achievement of a Sustainable PSS (S.PSS). Creative partnership structures can help to reach the highest levels of circularity. Four pathways are identified for achieving this: manufacturer with full dedication; retailer engaging the manufacturer; manufacturer outsourcing to the retailer; and circularity from scratch. In these pathways, different partnership structures are proposed, ensuring that the incentives for circularity are in the right place for all actors involved. Suggestions for future research include studying the impact of Lean Startup methods on long-term perspectives in Business Model Innovation (BMI), and studying the opportunities for system-building for developing circular business models.