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A Participatory Approach to Defining a Conceptual Model of the Circular Economy Methodology

A Participatory Approach to Defining a Conceptual Model of the Circular Economy Methodology

In this section, we will provide an overview of the process involved in arriving at expert consensus on a model of circularity in HRM practice using a participatory research method, leading to a model with 7 principles (eco-concepts). An EU Erasmus+ funded project, Circular HRM, facilitated a consensus driven process, known as The Delphi Method (Williamson et al., 2017). This methodology began with face-to-face consultation and iterative further rounds via online survey. An Inspiration Board was established by a project lead, HR Square. The total number of panellists were forty (participants were drawn from industry (CEO & Management), academia and independent experts), and following invite, 16 attended and consented to a face-to-face meeting. Of those that attended the expert panel were: 31% female: 69% male, zero representatives of the worker population being managed, 2 of 5 countries involved in the project.

The first round of the modified Delphi method was hosted at the aforementioned two-hour face-to-face meeting of the HR Square Inspiration Board on 11th October 2019. To frame the heightened value of participant input, the board were informed that their contribution would influence outcomes reported at European level as exemplars of best practice, and thereby have an impact on the standards of future companies who endorse this practice. In consenting to engage in this data collection process, participants were informed that expectations included partaking in both (i) the face-to-face meeting, and (ii) up to three follow-up surveys. The justification given for survey completion was to garner insight in defining the ideal in terms of circular economy practice, and also to determine practical applications that aid the development of a training package for companies across Europe.

Following a number of brief presentations on a broad framework of circular practice, participants were invited to consider 7 proposed statements (concept title with clarification statement) of circular practice and respond to aligned trigger items in terms of accepting/rejecting/revising the descriptor. Further space was also included for participants to include any other relevant practices they considered. The results from the inspiration board revealed consensus in terms of agreement with the trigger items for each eco-concept. Using the results of Round 1, consensus was defined as 70% of the participants agreeing that a Concept Statement and the related trigger statements, as defined characteristics were “Relevant”. It was agreed by the project team that the Concept Statements and associated definitions, terms, words and phrasing were identified as being relevant to the development of a Circular HRM model to complement extant models of economic circularity.

There was agreement amongst the assessment panel that human-centric language was certainly warranted, in order to adequately situate the model in practice. This initial feedback from Round 1 informed the development the Round 2 investigation. In Round 2 on online survey methodology was employed and participants were presented with modified Concept Statements to address common challenges relating to terminology phrasing or wording highlighted in the returned concept sheets from Round 1. These revisions were presented within the clarification statements relating to each concept statement.

In Round 3, the third and final round, the outcome of Round 2 was provided to the participants in the form of modified concept statements and participants were asked to rate the importance of the statements related to the successful implantation of Circular HRM practices, specific to the presented concept statements on a 5-point Likert scale (1=Strongly Disagree, 5=Strongly Agree). Participants could also suggest new concepts, additional statements or new directions for exploration. We asked participants to re-rate the importance of each research Concept Statements and comments on its definition, taking into consideration the panel members’ importance rating as a whole. Final Concept emergent from Round 1-3 are illustrated in Table 1 below.


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