Ann Stevenson

PhD Researcher

Ann is researching perceptions of risk for UK manufacturing SMEs in transitioning to a circular economy in the Understanding Risk group of Cardiff University.

For over a century, since the industrial revolution, increasing extraction of materials has fuelled a model of production and consumption based on constant extraction of materials to make new products that are thrown away when we decide they have no more value to us. This “linear economy” model has become hardwired into a global economic system in which government, businesses and society work together in producing and consuming increasing quantities of resources, goods and services as a means of achieving economic growth. However, the social, economic and environmental negative impacts of growing extraction, use and disposal of material resources that a consumption-centric linear economy model is built upon has resulted in the concept of a circular economy gaining traction in discourse and is becoming embedded in UK and European policy.

The aim of this research is to better inform policy decision-making on the engagement of manufacturing SMEs with transitioning to a circular economy. How business decision-makers and stakeholders in the manufacturing regime understand and respond to the concept of transitioning to a circular economy will affect the effectiveness of recommendations on achieving reductions in material demand and use and production of waste.

A Critical Discursive Psychology approach adopting a relational theory of risk perspective is used to gain insights into why particular perceptions exist, particularly in relation to  What is understood of transitioning to a circular economy?, What is understood of being an SME and their engagement in transitioning to a circular economy? And What is understood of risk for SMEs in transitioning to a circular economy?



Ann  has spent 25 years working in consultancy encouraging businesses to adopt resource efficiency and environmental best practices. Following an initial consultancy career as a risk and safety consultant for the chemical and nuclear industry, Ann became a programme manager and change management consultant on a range of government programmes including Advanced Fuel Cells programme, BIOWISE, Environmental technologies best practice, Envirowise, Public Sector Waste Minimisation campaign and innovation programmes before setting up the Welsh office of AEA technology (now Ricardo-AEA). In 2011, she joint founded an independent consultancy, The Environment and Sustainability Partnership (EandSP), focussing on reuse, resource efficiency in SMEs, food and tourism and textiles before coming back into academia.


Ann graduated as a Chemical engineer in 1989, completing an MSc in Environmental monitoring and assessment in 1994 and recently obtained a distinction on the PgDip Social Science Research Methods before embarking on her PhD in July 2017, which is due to complete March 2021.