Currently, the European Union is promoting the circular economy, a change that involves moving the foundations of actual economies toward the most sustainable production and consumption periods, in which the reuse of resources predominates, mainly through recycling, reuse, and reduction, among other strategies. This study, through the application of institutional theory, analyzes the role that institutional pressure has in the diffusion and adoption of the circular economy from the state to the regions inside through coercive, normative, and mimetic pressures. A matrix of institutional positioning was developed that analyzes the number and diversity of circular economy initiatives. The results show that coercive pressure followed by mimetic pressure are the most relevant in explaining the development of the circular economy in Spain in relation to the closest other European countries in Southern Europe, while there is low normative pressure. The results obtained provide relevant information on how to accelerate the development of the circular economy throughout the European Union through the adequate exercise of different types of institutional pressure.
Keywords: circular economy; coercive pressure; institutional pressure; mimetic pressure; normative pressure.