Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Actor Behaviour and Robustness of Industrial Symbiosis Networks: An Agent-Based Modelling Approach


Industrial Symbiosis Networks (ISNs) consist of firms that exchange residual materials and energy locally, in order to gain economic, environmental and/or social advantages. In practice, ISNs regularly fail when partners leave and the recovery of residual streams ends. Regarding the current societal need for a shift towards sustainability, it is undesirable that ISNs should fail. Failures of ISNs may be caused by actor behaviour that leads to unanticipated economic losses. In this paper, we explore the effect of these behaviours on ISN robustness by using an agent-based model (ABM). The constructed model is based on insights from both literature and participatory modelling in three real-world cases. It simulates the implementation of synergies for local waste exchange and compost production. The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) was used to model agent behaviour in time-dependent bilateral negotiations and synergy evaluation processes. We explored model behaviour with and without TPB logic across a range of possible TPB input variables. The simulation results show how the modelled planned behaviour affects the cash flow outcomes of the social agents and the robustness of the network. The study contributes to the theoretical development of industrial symbiosis research by providing a quantitative model of all ISN implementation stages, in which various behavioural patterns of entrepreneurs are included. It also contributes to practice by offering insights on how network dynamics and robustness outcomes are not only related to context and ISN design, but also to actor behaviour.

Reference Lange, K., Korevaar, G., Nikolic, I., & Herder, P. (2021). Actor Behaviour and Robustness of Industrial Symbiosis Networks: An Agent-Based Modelling Approach. JASSS, 24(3), [8].
Published by  Centre for Applied Research Technology 30 June 2021

Publication date

Jun 2021


Gijsbert Korevaar
Igor Nikolic
Paulien Herder


Research database