Degrowth-Oriented Value Creation

An important new paper on degrowth-oriented business value creation has just been published.

We all understand how businesses create value in the growth paradigm – business models organise activities to enable strategies of efficiency, expansion and innovation to create products and services that increase material and financial wealth for stakeholders. Degrowth paradigm value creation and business models are an open question.

This particular study has gathered evidence from existing literature on degrowth-oriented business case studies as a step toward building a degrowth theory of value.

A degrowth theory of value would enable evaluation of the implications of organisations and systems with respect to the core values of degrowth.

Degrowth core values are part of the emerging discourse. The study considers three: ecological sustainability, equality (local and global) and conviviality – and asks how can organisations engage in activities that materialise these degrowth values for their stakeholders.

Unsurprisingly, given the emerging nature of degrowth, the findings are quite complex, revealing 39 patterns of value creation, which the authors have helpfully arranged into 7 main propositions.

1) Overcoming growth dynamics

“Degrowth-oriented value creation means that organisations make strategic governance decisions and establish accounting and communication practices that prevent undesired commodification and growth drivers (e.g., competition and debt) but help to identify and serve stakeholders’ needs within social and ecological limits.”

2) Engaging consumers in sufficiency-oriented prosumption

“Degrowth-oriented value creation means that the provision of products and services and communication activities actively involve consumers, thereby conveying a sufficiency-oriented appreciation that everything organisations offer, from food to IT services, is the crystallised form of demanding social and material processes – e.g., of photosynthesis, resource extraction, and discussion.”

3) Joining forces in rewarding and mutual collaboration

“Degrowth-oriented value creation means that actors join forces in rewarding and mutual cooperation and (re)distribute resources to create protected spaces and infrastructures that eventually enable the actors involved to tackle social and environmental problems that transcend their core business and individual economic interests.”

4) Equalising inequalities

“Degrowth-oriented value creation means that organisations channel (i.e., source, offer, and (re)distribute) resources and support from public institutions or affluent populations to disadvantaged populations or neglected social causes for a more equitable distribution of wealth, power, and access to needed products or services.”

5) Open and decentral creativity

“Degrowth-oriented value creation means that organisations make social and material technologies accessible and advance them through the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ (i.e., open provision and development of resources) to decommodify the access to resources and allow for their open, decentral, and generative use.

6) Shrinking, slowing, and extending resource cycles

“Degrowth-oriented value creation means that organisations develop, resource, (re)create, and offer products and services that help to reduce, in absolute terms, product and waste production as well as energy and material consumption and enable more resource effective and sufficiency-oriented lifestyles.”

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