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University of Exeter Business School

Dr Ryan Nolan

Dr Ryan Nolan

Postdoctoral Research Impact Fellow




I joined the University of Exeter Business School in 2022 as a Research Impact Fellow in the UKRI Circular Economy Hub (part of the NICER Programme). My research is concerned with the theory and practice of boundary-crossing collaboration to drive sustainability transitions, with a specific focus on the circular economy. This is broadly split into two streams:

On one front, I draw from process and practice theory to delve into the intricacies of interdisciplinary collaborations among research teams striving to tackle grand challenges, such as responsible consumption and production. This line of inquiry aims to contribute to our understanding and the theorisation of interdisciplinary collaborative practice, emphasising its role in addressing pressing global issues.

At the same time, I work with industry practitioners to investigate (inter)organisational collaboration in a variety of empirical settings, i.e. across sectors and value chains. This facet of my research is grounded in qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, observation) and co-creation (workshops, co-creation) approaches, seeking to make a tangible impact by understanding and addressing real-world challenges faced by organisations today. The exploration of concrete problems around the implementation and integration of CE within the industry landscape is central to my continued project of theory-building for sustainable transitions and societal transformation.

Through these two interconnected streams of research, I strive to contribute to the broader discourse on sustainability transitions and the circular economy within and beyond organisation studies, fostering collaborations that transcend boundaries and generate meaningful impact.

I sit on the editorial board of The Sociological Review and am an affiliated researcher of Exeter's Global Systems Institute and feed into the CE offering of Green Futures Solutions.


  • BA(Hons)
  • MA
  • PhD

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Research interests

My research interests include:

  • Social dimensions of organisational sustainability and CE transitions 
  • Collaborative practice (in theory and practice), interorganisational collaboration
  • Grand societal challenges
  • Organisation theory
  • Complexity 

I have also taught and published on topics related to creative industries and maintain active interests in these areas. In this context, I am currently co-editing the Palgrave Handbook of Critical Music Industry Studies (with sociologist David Arditi), due for publication in late 2024.

Research projects

Principal Investigator for Circular Fitout Lab: Using purchasing power to drive change in fitout and retrofit projects with industrial partner Business in the Community. Project site here.

UKRI National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research (NICER) Programme


Research networks

Editorial board member of The Sociological Review


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I’ve delivered undergraduate and postgraduate teaching across several courses and subject areas, with experience in developing and delivering courses in business and experience design.

I am currently a tutor on the Circular Economy Masterclass and MBA, and deliver guest lectures across a variety of modules. Previously, I have taught across creative and cultural industries courses in business school contexts, with a focus on industrial practice, organisation and management studies. I have also taught qualitative research methods at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and am co-supervising a PhD candidate working in the area of circular economy policy in the agri-food sector. 

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