The application of Industry 4.0 technologies and its effect on circular economy, in the context of R&D: a narrative review

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As the manufacturing industry embrace the mega-trends, such as digitalisation through the application of Industry 4.0 and accelerating sustainability feature through the adoption of Circular Economy (CE). The fundamental production and system dynamics are changing underlying research and development (R&D) and strategic reconfigurations. Therefore, this study will fill the gap in assessing the development of R&D strategy by identifying the drivers and understanding the challenges that are faced by firms moving towards a CE paradigm shift with the help of I4.0 technologies. This research will construct a theoretical construct by synthesising the connection between industry 4.0 (I4.0) technologies and the circular economy (CE) paradigm in the context of R&D using 44 research papers. This study is aimed to critically analysed the role of R&D in technological (circular) product innovation and process innovation. The findings revealed that the strategic executives need to understand the integration of I4.0 technologies to evaluate sustainable solutions through R&D that can be incorporated into a firm’s strategy. As R&D strategy yields the development of differentiated offerings through improved production and delivery methods. Where I4.0 technologies aid in positioning CE principles within the business model through connected platforms. Instead of realising the essence of R&D as the driving essence of a firm’s performance, it is left siloed from corporate priorities. It has been noted that the reliance on I4.0 technologies in different phases of operations has ascended the R&D-related costs. However, the firms are expecting to receive enhanced financial benefits in the long term.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScottish Doctoral Colloquium in Accounting and Finance
Subtitle of host publicationAberdeen Business School, 13th June 2022, Conference Proceedings
PublisherRobert Gordon University
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2022
EventScottish Doctoral Colloquium in Accounting and Finance 2022 - Online (Robert Gordon University), Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jun 2022 → …


ConferenceScottish Doctoral Colloquium in Accounting and Finance 2022
Abbreviated titleScotDoc2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period13/06/22 → …
Internet address


  • Industry 4.0
  • circular economy
  • R&D


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