The future of industry 4.0 and the circular economy in Chinese supply chain: In the Era of post-COVID-19 pandemic

Wang Dongfang, Pablo Ponce, Zhang Yu, Katerine Ponce, Muhammad Tanveer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The demand for new productive factors is increasingly required, exacerbated in a scenario in which a linear economy prevails. The circular economy (CE) adoption is a proposal to guarantee environmental sustainability and redirect an obsolete process such as the linear economy. Thus, one of the main factors that allow achieving sustainability is Industry 4.0 (I4.0). In addition, the research aims to evaluate the role of I4.0 during the COVID-19 pandemic in China. The literature review process defines ten future projections with potential for the CE's adoption. The two-round Delphi approach was developed with 54 CE experts to evaluate the projections. In both rounds, the probability of occurrence up to 2030, its impact on the CE and its desirability were evaluated. Likewise, the qualitative criteria of the experts were coded to evaluate the projections. From the ten projections, four are those with the highest probability of occurrence (EP > 70%), with high impact (I > 3.5) and desirability of occurrence (I > 3.5). Expert evaluations make it possible to identify that Industry 4.0 and the digital skills of workers, their financing, and the efficiency of Government policies have a high probability of occurrence in the adoption of the CE in 2030. This research responds to the special call of papers providing evidence favouring the implementation of I4.0 in the CE from a holistic approach to draw a roadmap towards adopting the CE practices.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOperations Management Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is supported by National Social Science Foundation (19XJL004).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Circular economy
  • COVID-19
  • Delphi approach
  • Environmental policies
  • Industry 4.0
  • Supply chain management


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