Industrial ecology is a rapidly developing field of research and practice in which the sustainability of industrial systems is thought to be improved through closing of material and energy loops among firms. In this paper, I look at the developing practice around this concept from a self-organization perspective. A central question is the extent to which closing of material loops has to be planned and guided by governmental agencies. Based on a longitudinal case study of industrial ecology development in the Rotterdam harbor area (the Netherlands), the interplay between self-organization, external control, and vision development is analyzed.
Emergence: Complexity and Organization
Department of Public Administration

Boons, F. (2008). Self-organization and sustainability: The emergence of a regional industrial ecology. Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 10(2), 41–48. Retrieved from