A thesis discussed at the University of Padua sheds light on the links between these two key aspects of business management
The circular economy seen as the cutting-edge version of an economy more attentive to the impact it has on environment and society. The kind of economy that also affects business management – not only its production profile, but its social aspects, too.
Giorgia Masconale’s thesis, recently discussed as part of the Master’s in Economics programme offered by the M. Fanno Department of Economics and Business Sciences at the University of Padua, revolves around just such themes. The thesis is entitled “L’implementazione dell’economia circolare nelle aziende: la gestione sostenibile delle risorse umane” (“Implementing the circular economy in businesses: the sustainable management of human resources”), and its premise is that “the circular economy has a strategic impact on company’s human resources functions whose role, therefore, becomes more significant in the achievement of sustainable development and of a competitive advantage.” Hence, Masconale starts her argument by investigating the “roots of the circular economy”, and then swiftly moves on to an in-depth exploration of corporate models and structures needing to adapt to the principles of an economy that has changed and that, in some way, has become more pervasive than the previous, traditional one. The author goes on to delve into aspects such as recovery and recycling, extending the useful life of a product, and the concept of product as a service, and after having contextualised these business management elements, she proceeds to scrutinise the relationships between human resources management and the circular economy.
A culture open to innovation, incorporating reactive leadership, transparent communications and a flexible structure facilitates the achievement of environmental sustainability, and all business functions within a corporate organisation can bring a tangible contribution towards the attainment of set sustainable goals.
Giorgia Masconale concludes, “HR functions play a very deft role, as they oversee the point of intersection between the organisation and the people who will become its social fabric. Moreover, by managing processes and behaviours, HR functions are in charge of implementing change, and therefore of the development and dissemination of a new culture of responsibility.” She adds that, “Traditional functions acquire new life as they are reinterpreted in terms of sustainable development, becoming key factors in the transformation of plain organisations into responsible organisations: entities in tune with an evolving world, able to show resilience and, with it, new opportunities for competitiveness.”
Giorgia Masconale’s thesis is a valuable read, providing an honest and concise overview of the relationships between two major, complex themes of corporate culture and business management.
“L’implementazione dell’economia circolare nelle aziende: la gestione sostenibile delle risorse umane” (“Implementing the circular economy in businesses: the sustainable management of human resources”)
Thesis, University of Padua, M. Fanno Department of Economics and Business Sciences, Master’s in Economics programme, 2021