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Keywords:

  • industrial ecology;
  • industrial symbiosis;
  • Pharmaceutical;
  • Puerto Rico;
  • social network analysis;
  • social science

Summary

Industrial symbiosis (IS) has been used to describe the physical exchange and shared management of input and output materials by geographically proximate firms. Firms that engage in IS are said to belong to an industrial ecosystem. Symbiosis has been found to be motivated by economic considerations, such as lowering costs for waste disposal, as well as by environmental ones, such as accessing limited water supplies. Communication and trust among managers are thought to play important roles in exchanges; however, empirical studies have not been previously conducted. This study used social network analysis (SNA) to identify the prevalence of industrial symbiosis linkages in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. The study quantified patterns in various relationships among firms and managers, including formal relations through supply chains, and informal ones through interpersonal interactions. SNA and statistical methods were used to explore how these ties correlate with observed industrial symbiosis activities. IS linkages were found to be less prevalent than product sales among firms and were concentrated among pharmaceutical firms at the core of the regional network. Trust among managers and position in the social hierarchy were found to be correlated with IS but not supply chain links. SNA was useful for examining the organization of different relationships in the industrial ecosystem, but contextual information is still needed to add meaning to its findings.