Degrowth Conference Budapest 2016
The Economy for the Common Good (ECG) is a social movement as well as an alternative economic model that views the common good as the purpose of economic activity. Monetary profits are seen as a mere means. Enterprises participating in the ECG compile so-called common good balance sheets, which assess to which extent the company acts according to values, such as ecological sustainability and solidarity, in relation to central stakeholders. This paper examines the ECG movement’s conception of company practices and their potential to contribute to the development towards a degrowth society. The analytical framework is based on Latouche's (2009: 33) “virtuous circles of eight R’s: re-evaluate, reconceptualize, restructure, redistribute, relocalize, reduce, re-use and recycle”. Within this framework, the concept of the ECG is compared to a range of corporate social responsibility instruments (e.g. EMAS). Among other findings, the ECG proves to be the most comprehensive instrument, since it encompasses the whole value chain and almost invariably addresses environmental and social topics. Furthermore, the EGC is the only explicit promoter of sufficiency. In the empirical part of the study, interviews with companies from the ECG movement are analyzed. First results show that company practices oriented to the common good are predominantly consistent with the eight R’s. The enterprises claim their core businesses are clearly managed with an ecological and/or social orientation. Concerning growth, however, they apply different strategies as some are shrinking, while others remain static or grow. To conclude, the ECG exhibits a number of characteristics that link to degrowth.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „The Economy for the Common Good: an approach to alternative company practices in accordance with degrowth?“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.