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REINVENTING CAPITALISM, TOGETHER

Welcome to Business for Humanity!

Welcome to our new Business for Humanity webcast - a  journey of exploration and inspiration as we delve into diverse proposals and ideas to reimagine and improve capitalism!

Together with our engaged audience, we'll systematically explore the underlying premises, shed light on practical implications, and unveil the strengths and weaknesses of innovative approaches. Our discussions will span ethical principles, the role of institutions, and practical change strategies to make our economy a little bit better every day!

Whether you're a researcher or practitioner, these sessions promise valuable insights and inspiration for a collective new narrative. Join us throughout the series as we weave together the fundamentals for good economy, contributing to a thriving planet for all. Together, let's reinvent capitalism and guide businesses and leaders toward becoming a force for good!

A Necessary Transformation

There is no denial: capitalism is in crisis. Our prevailing economic model, once celebrated as a beacon of liberal enlightenment, now stands accused of complicity in a myriad of societal challenges, resulting in unprecedented ecological and social damage. Deep anxiety permeates society, fuelled by profound concerns about the state of the world and a growing disillusionment with the dominant narrative of progress. Yet, most people still operate within the implicit acceptance of growth-based consumer capitalism, a system in which shareholder profits ultimately dominate decisions that impact the lives of every citizen, the health of the Earth, and the fate of future generations. Current policy proposals continue to fall short, often remaining within the confines of the existing paradigm rather than questioning the system itself. Yet, alternatives exist. Across the globe, courageous individuals and communities contribute to a global shift towards better business, exploring innovative ideas such as the resurgence of the commons, the degrowth movement, ecofeminism, civil economics, and more. Frederic Jameson once famously remarked: "It's easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." Our intention is to prove him wrong!

What's our objective?

In a challenging landscape of ideological rigidity and widespread misinformation, "Business for Humanity" aims to provide a credible, inspirational and engaging platform to promote, develop and spread alternative economic models.

  • We will showcase a wide range of compelling alternative approaches to economics and finance that promise a more sustainable and just society.
  • Together with an interested audience, we will seek to uncover the premises and worldviews underlying each of these approaches, shed light on practical implications and real-world examples, and explore their possible strengths and weaknesses. Our discussions will encompass ethical principles, the pivotal role of public and economic institutions, and the responsibilities of businesses and individuals.
  • Throughout the series, we will seek to crystalize the fundamentals for a "good economy" and inspire collective action, guiding businesses and business leaders toward becoming a force for good.
All the sessions will be publicly available - we aspire to serve as a robust reference library and educational resource, for both researchers and practitioners.

Who is it for?

This new series is crafted to appeal to a broad and diverse audience in mind, including Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders seeking inspiration for socially responsible entrepreneurship, Policy Makers and Economists shaping economic policies, Students and Academics exploring emerging economic paradigms, Socially Conscious Consumers, NGOs, Activists, Innovators, Journalists, and the General Public! In a nutshell, it welcomes anyone intrigued by progressive economic models aligned with ethical, sustainable practices and a positive societal impact. Whether you're seeking credible practical proposals or simply looking to gain a better understanding, this series promises insights for all.

Leaders United: A Call for Economic Transformation


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UPCOMING SESSIONS & registration

A little wiser every month with Business for Humanity

Next Business for Humanity Session in...

12
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Session Archive & Recordings

KEES KLOMP
"We are only as good as the stories we tell."
existential economics

KEES KLOMP

Edition 1: Launching Business for Humanity - An Exciting Introduction Based on Kees Klomp's "Thrive"
KEES KLOMP
"We are only as good as the stories we tell."
ecg

christian felber

Edition 2: Exploring The Economy for the Common Good

Join us for interactive monthly sessions!

A COLLABORATIVE INQUIRY

Embark on an engaging journey with us during our monthly Business for Humanity sessions! Each session is crafted as a collaborative inquiry, featuring a structured format to make the exploration of alternative economic frameworks both insightful and interactive.

The sessions unfold in four distinct blocks:

  1. Inspiration: Experience a brief introduction and presentation of the alternative framework by the author.
  2. Clarification: Dive into an in-depth Q&A session with the author, facilitated by Kees, Antoinette, and Otti. Audience questions from the chat are also welcomed.
  3. Critical Dialogue: Engage in generative breakout groups, followed by an integrative plenary. Explore key takeaways and discuss how to translate the learnings into actionable insights. (We adopt the well-established "Mind Gym" format, developed by our friends Richard Claydon and Oskar Venhuis)
  4. Meta Reflection: Optionally, participate in a critical reflection of the framework within the broader inquiry. This block is designed for those interested in extending their reflections beyond the specific model presented during the session.

Each block lasts around 30 minutes, making the entire session approximately 90 minutes. The final block is optional for participants looking to broaden their reflections. Guests typically stay for the first hour, and you're welcome to join at any time. Let's embark on this collective exploration together!


Kees Klomp
Professor, Activist Researcher & Uneconomist

University of Windesheim
Image Description
Antoinette Weibel
Professor for HRM and Organisation

University of St. Gallen
Otti Vogt
Former Chief Transformation Officer

Good Leadership Society
Please fill in our short registration form to receive the

invitation with zoom details and exclusive access to resources for each session!



our bucket list

A Unique Inquiry Into How To Develop A Good Economy For a Good Society 

The world owes a great deal of thanks to the radical thinkers and promoters of economic alternatives

We bow to your dedication.


Universal approaches: better reasoning, justice, rights, rules (deontic)

PROSPERITY ECONOMICS

TIM JACKSON

DEGROWTH ECONOMICS

JASON HICKEL

DOUGNHUT ECONOMICS

KATE RAWORTH

ECONOMY FOR THE COMMON GOOD

CHRISTIAN FELBER

ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY

PETER TURKSON

SOLIDARITY ECONOMY

PETER UTTING

LIVING EARTH ECONOMY

DAVID KORTEN

wellbeing economics

ROBERT COSTANZA

civil economy

STEFANO ZAMAGNI

BLENDED FINANCE

JED EMERSON

ISLAMIC FINANCE

HANS VISSER

ETHICAL CAPITALISM

JULIAN RICHER



Virtue and care: mutual flourishing, sustainability, ecological (relational - ecological)

ECONOMICS OF HAPPINESS

HELENA NORBERG-HODGE

CARING ECONOMY

RIANE EISLER

PEER TO PEER ECONOMICS

MICHAEL BAUWENS

BUDDHIST ECONOMICS

CLAIR BROWN

BUDDHIST ECONOMICS

SULAK SIVARAKSA

GREEN FINANCE

ANN PETTIFOR

GREEN ECONOMICS

JOSCHKA FISCHER

EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL

FRANS TIMMERMANS

Feminist Economics

Julie A. Nelson

Wellbeing Economics

Katherine Trebeck



Freedom and Voluntarism: Democracy, participation, redistribution, consensus, contract (social contract)

SOCIALIST ECONOMICS

PAUL ADLER

Collective Courage

Jessica Gordon Nembhard



Markets and Technology: externalities, incentives, entrepreneurship, pricing (utilitarian)

civil economy

STEFANO ZAMAGNI

(RADICAL) CIRCULAR ECONOMY

KEES VAN KALVEEN

GROW THE PIE

ALEX EDMANS

NET POSITIVE

PAUL POLMAN

POOR ECONOMICS

ESTHER DUFLO

ARE WE MISSING ANY IMPORTANT PERSPECTIVES?

Please get in touch and let us know if there are important proposals we are missing (see criteria below)



JOIN OUR INQUIRY!

5-min Introduction (Kees Klomp & Silvio Christoffel)

A Journey of Inquiry

About Our Approach

A Working Hypothesis
We strongly believe that culture (ethical values and epistemological concepts), social structures, and behaviours are intricately interdependent, forming a distinctive "action logic" that drives the performance of a given system. To truly comprehend or influence an economic model, we must therefore delve into the core, exploring not just the visible outcomes but also the generative mechanisms beneath the surface. With this philosophy, we embark on a comprehensive journey of inquiry, scrutinizing each alternative approach. Our aim is to unravel the values and principles behind the approaches, trace the translation of values into institutions, and uncover the levers they intend to pull for tangible transformations within the existing system.

A Need For Integration (And Scale)
Unraveling the intricacies of each model is a crucial step, but the true challenge lies in crafting a viable strategy for the collective transformation of our current system. Consequently, our discussions will not only dissect individual models but also ignite a parallel "meta" conversation. This secondary discourse will focus on the possibilities of synergizing various models and ideas, cultivating a more potent collective movement for transformative change. By exploring the intersections and harmonies between diverse approaches, we aspire to forge a path towards a comprehensive and impactful vision for the future.

Basic definitions

  • Capitalism: Capitalism is an economic and social system characterized by private ownership of the means of production, where individuals or corporations own and control businesses for profit. In a capitalist system, the allocation of resources, production, and distribution of goods and services is primarily driven by market forces such as supply and demand. The price mechanism, competition, and the pursuit of profit are fundamental features of capitalism. It contrasts with planned economies where the state or collective ownership plays a central role in economic decision-making. 
  • Neoliberalism: Neoliberalism is an economic and political philosophy that gained prominence in the mid-20th century. Rooted in free-market capitalism, it advocates for minimal government intervention in the economy, promoting free markets, deregulation, privatization, and limited government involvement. Neoliberalism emphasizes individual liberty, arguing that free markets are the most efficient way to allocate resources. Supporters believe it fosters economic growth and innovation, while critics contend it can lead to increased inequality, social injustice, and environmental neglect. 
  • Political economy: Political economy is a multidisciplinary field that combines insights from economics, political science, and sociology to analyze the relationships between political and economic structures in a society. It explores how political institutions, ideologies, and processes impact economic policies and outcomes, and vice versa. Political economy examines the distribution of power, resources, and wealth within a society, considering factors such as government policies, institutions, class dynamics, and global influences. The field seeks to understand the complex interplay between political and economic forces, investigating how these forces shape economic decision-making, policy formation, and social outcomes. Political economy provides a framework for analyzing the role of politics in economic processes and addressing issues of governance, inequality, and development.

Our Inquiry Structure

Not so simple questions...

In our interview series we invite our global audience to explore each suggested framework asking a number of apparently simple questions: 

  1. Values: What are the underlying values (and ethics) of each approach? How does it compare or differ from other proposals?
  2. Solution: How are values translated into institutions and systemic interventions? Is the solution design addressing the most important levers?
  3. Implementation: How is the existing system transformed towards the proposed solution? What practical proof points exist? What can we all do to help?

Alongside the examination of the specifics of each model, we will also seek to further our inquiry about "good organisations". We will ask for each approach:

  • Corporate Citizenship: What is the role and responsibility of businesses in each model? What is a "good organisation"?
  • Good Economy: How does the suggested solution support the evolution of such responsible and "good organisations"? How does it address current challenges? (e.g. regulation, taxation, change in market structures or legal frameworks etc)
  • Good Leadership: How should businesses and business leaders enable the desired changes? What does it imply for leadership development?

We will further refine our inquiry approach before commencing the interviews. Watch this space for the latest thinking and some initial framing.



resources

Academic Essays: Alternative Approaches to Capitalism

If your curiosity has been sparked and the anticipation for our upcoming live sessions is getting the better of you, fear not! We've got a treasure trove of captivating content waiting for you right now. Dive into the world of thought-provoking articles, engaging blog posts, and enlightening interviews from our sibling podcast project, "Leaders for Humanity."

This book provides insights into alternative approaches to economics that are sustainable and just for both society and the planet in the long term. In twenty-four essays, internationally renowned economic thinkers like Kate Raworth, Charles Eisenstein, Clair Brown, Helena Norberg-Hodge and Daniel C. Wahl share the alternatives that are available to us such as doughnut economics, wellbeing economics, common good economics, regenerative economics, buddhist economics, commons economics, local economics, bioregional economics, indigenous economics and degrowth economics. Each of these approaches provides a realistic and enticing vision of a thriving future.

In this paper we identify two missing dimensions of the Human Capabilities Approach (HCA) – the collective and the productive – and in doing so we advance a ‘productionist’ perspective on development, centred around the idea of ‘collective productive capabilities’. Bringing production back to the core of the development agenda calls for an integration of the HCA and those contributions which have focused their attention on the social, economic and institutional processes of learning, centred
around productive organisations and systems. The lack of this focus on collective productive capabilities undermined the Millenium Development Goals Agenda and is still having negative impacts on the ways in which the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda is understood and implemented.

The paper offers a wide-angle view of ethics and welfare through the lens of ‘moral economy’. It examines economic activities in relation to a view of welfare as well-being, and to ethics in terms of economic justice. Rather than draw upon abstract ideal theories such as Rawlsian or Capabilities approaches, it calls for an evaluation of actually existing sources of harm and benefit in neoliberal capitalism. It argues that we need to look behind economic outcomes in terms of how much money different people have, examine their economic relations to others, and evaluate the justifications of these relations and their associated rights and practices. It distinguishes three sources of income – earned income, transfers, and unearned income, and argues that the last of these has no functional or ethical justification but has major implications for welfare. It then comments on the policy implications of the argument, including brief comments on asset-based welfare and universal basic income policies, and concludes.

While the notion of degrowth has gained traction in recent times, scholarship on degrowth transformations has yet to provide a conceptualisation that captures key attributes of what such transformations entail: (1) the reduction of some items and the expansion of others and (2) profound changes in various dimensions of social being, including in how humans interact with nature, non-humans, and one another, changes in social structures and changes in how we are as human beings. The present paper develops a comprehensive and non-reductionist conceptualisation of degrowth, understanding it to involve deep transformations on four interrelated planes of social being: material transactions with nature, social interactions between persons, social structure, and people's inner being. On each plane, these transformations consist in reducing, and ultimately absenting, some currently existing items while expanding others. The paper considers the implications of the conceptualisation for degrowth practice and theorising, focusing on top-down eco-social policies, bottom-up initiatives and self-transformation. It is found that degrowth would benefit from considering more seriously the effects of policies and initiatives across all four planes and from acknowledging diversity on each plane. Moreover, it is concluded that more attention should be paid to the plane of peoples' inner being.

This paper addresses the role of neoclassical methodologies in ecological economics and the contradictions these methodologies pose to the field's critical founding principles. We first consider Robert Costanza's treatment of Nicholas Stern's Global Deal and then survey climate change-related articles published in this journal over the past five years. This survey reveals how mainstream (neoclassical) methodologies dominate discourse, and do so by marginalizing more critical (political economy) analyses. This situation imperils the field's founding vision of a no-growth ‘steady state’; it also fails to address the (related) growth dynamics of capitalism. Without such a critical treatment, the field's formal embrace of ‘methodological pluralism’ actually entails an ideological empiricism that renders ecological economics theoretically incoherent. This situation undermines the field's historical promise as an alternative economic paradigm. Ecological economics now faces a problematic future. Its survival in a form faithful to its founding vision will require an explicit choice to address its internal contradictions, and reinvent itself in ways relevant to our contemporary context. Without such a choice, ecological economics will likely succumb to an implicit acceptance of the hegemony of mainstream economic methodologies and their pro-growth imperatives.

This essay reviews the development of approaches within the comparative capitalisms (CC) literature and points to three theoretical innovations which, taken together, define and distinguish these approaches as a group. First, national economies are characterized by distinct institutional configurations that generate a particular systemic “logic” of economic action. Second, the CC literature suggests a theory of comparative institutional advantage in which different institutional arrangements have distinct strengths and weaknesses for different kinds of economic activity. Third, the literature has been interpreted to imply a theory of institutional path dependence. Behind these unifying characteristics of the literature, however, lie a variety of analytical frameworks and typologies of capitalism. This paper reviews and compares these different frameworks by highlighting the fundamental distinctions among them and drawing out their respective contributions and limitations in explaining economic performance and institutional dynamics. The paper concludes that the way forward for this literature lies in developing a more dynamic view of individual institutions, the linkages between domains, and the role of politics and power.

Scholars and activists mobilize increasingly the term degrowth when producing knowledge critical of the ideology and costs of growth-based development. Degrowth signals a radical political and economic reorganization leading to reduced resource and energy use. The degrowth hypothesis posits that such a trajectory of social transformation is necessary, desirable, and possible; the conditions of its realization require additional study. Research on degrowth has reinvigorated the limits to growth debate with critical examination of the historical, cultural, social, and political forces that have made economic growth a dominant objective. Here we review studies of economic stability in the absence of growth and of societies that have managed well without growth. We reflect on forms of technology and democracy compatible with degrowth and discuss plausible openings for a degrowth transition. This dynamic and productive research agenda asks inconvenient questions that sustainability sciences can no longer afford to ignore.

The concept of ‘wellbeing economy’ (WE), that is, an economy that pursues human and ecological wellbeing instead of material growth, is gaining support amongst policymakers, business, and civil society. Over the past couple of years, several national governments have adopted the WE as their guiding framework to design development policies and assess social and economic progress. While it shares a number of basic principles with various post-growth conceptualisations, the WE's language and concepts tend to be more adaptable to different social and economic contexts, thus penetrating into policy processes and connecting to a variety of cultural traits, not only in advanced economies but also in less industrialised nations. In this paper, we describe the key features of the WE, including its approach to key concepts like work, productivity and technology and several examples of its policy impact. We conclude by positing that the WE framework may be one of the most effective bases to mainstream post-growth policies at the national and global level.

The paper deals with the recent resurgence of interest in the concept of “socialism” from an economic perspective. The most significant contemporary proposals for a new model of socialism are surveyed across five major thematic areas: socialism as a voluntary endeavor and socialist ethics; socialism as a process of democratization; socialism, efficiency and profit maximization; the problem of planning and the new calculation debate; and, socialism as a means versus socialism as an end. A common framework to assess the new blueprints is constructed to identify the likely directions of the research on these themes in the near future.

To explain the frequent failures of current CSR practices and to explore the possibilities of remedying them, I examine the close relationship between CSR, the persistent expansion of capitalism, and the pressure that capitalism puts on companies to legitimize their business operations. My analysis shows that the failure of CSR to serve as a corrective to the problematic effects of capitalism is, in fact, an inevitable consequence of the problematic dynamics of the capitalist system. On this basis, I suggest that capitalism limits the possibilities of making CSR more effective, argue for change on the systemic level of capitalism, and explore the ways in which CSR research can contribute to this political endeavor.

Universal ownership theory proposes that widely diversified investors, who own a broad-based stake in the economy, can have a financial self-interest in reducing market-wide risks relating to environmental or social (ES) issues. Universal owner theory therefore provides a way to justify the active pursuit of ES goals, without the need for an explicit ES mandate from clients. This paper sets out a double test for determining whether universal owner theory justifies investor action in a given case. First, the outcome sought should have a credible pathway to enhance risk-adjusted returns at the portfolio level. Second, investors must have efficacy to achieve the outcome without exposing clients to excessive costs and risks. We examine these tests in the context of climate change. When applied to the case of the commonly adopted goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C, universal owner theory runs into problems on both tests.

In this paper, I analyze the moral responsibilities that companies have with regard to the development of their sector, especially when there are path dependences that can lead sectors on more or less morally acceptable paths, e.g., with regard to market access for disadvantaged groups. The interdependencies between companies in a sector are underexplored in the literature on
corporate social responsibility (CSR). Reflections on the normative status of profit-seeking and on the normative bases of CSR, however, provide us with reasons for seeing sector-related responsibilities as an important component of CSR.

Selected Leaders for Humanity Interviews

Curious to watch more interviews? Jump to the Leaders for Humanity series for all our exciting interviews with some of the greatest minds of our time.

Selected essays from our blog

1 - Capitalism is failing
Pluralists of all Countries, Unite!

Chances are that someone has gifted you one of those multi-coloured, slogan-rich “airport” management books that often come with “washing lists” of highly critical characteristics, or secret “power traits”, of successful leaders...
(9 min read)

How Economic Science Lost Its Heart and Soul (…and What We Can Do About It)
Imagine a society where people interact with trust, solidarity and fraternity. Where welfare is not measured in terms of GDP, but lived in terms of public happiness. Where the economy is virtuous and markets aim at shared prosperity through mutual exchange and generous reciprocity. Where organisations are, first and foremost, positive agents of societal change — creating communities, not commodities. And where work is centred on the integral development of each person, not solely on products…
(9 min read)
2 - root causes
Remembering Polanyi: Where Are We On Our "Great Transformation"?

Is “Business Ethics” an oxymoron? No. Commercial performance and ethics are by no means incommensurable —but they ask fundamentally different questions. Ethics is about choosing whither to go — how to grow, and why. Performance is about progressing towards a chosen destination in the most efficient way possible, adapting to obstacles and opportunities along the road.

3 -csr has not worked
The Sustainability Lie: Why Responsibility Comes First

Isn’t it funny that sustainability is on everybody’s lips these days, but environmental and societal degradation are occurring at unprecedented levels? And ain’t it curious that the planet is burning, but few people in (solar-powered!) corporate or political headquarters are sweating?
(6 min read)

Curious to read more about our ongoing inquiry? A good place to start is our blog with all recent leadership articles and posts.