• Principles for organizations striving for sustainable degrowth: Framework development and application to four B Corps

      Hankammer, Stephan; Kleer, Robin; Mühl, Lena; Euler, Johannes (Journal of Cleaner Production, 2021)
      Economic growth is generally seen as a central economic and political goal. The critique of this view has increased recently. In this context post-growth concepts, such as sustainable degrowth, emerged as an alternative paradigm focusing on ensuring human wellbeing within planetary boundaries. Since business activity is a key driving force behind economic growth, the role of corporate organizations in a transition towards a post-growth society is a particularly challenging question. It is still unclear, for instance, what business models for organizations approaching degrowth could look like. Therefore, our study aims to contribute to understanding guiding principles for organizations approaching degrowth. In this exploratory work, we use a two-step approach: First, based on a systematic literature review, we derive principles for a conceptual framework composed of business-relevant claims in the degrowth discourse in order to assemble and synergize fragmented findings. The resulting conceptual framework serves to describe and assess organizations with respect to their approximation to degrowth. Second, we apply the framework to four organizations certified as B Corps based on qualitative content analysis of interviews with corporate representatives and additional company data. Overall, our findings show that B Corps rather successfully implement numerous degrowth-approaching principles in their organization within our current economic system, while none of the organizations is seen as fully degrowth-conform. With our analysis we uncover significant tensions regarding growth-orientation and identify further needs for empirical and conceptual research.
    • Towards degrowth-conform organizational models: Framework development and application

      Hankammer, Stephan; Kleer, Robin; Mühl, Lena; Euler, Johannes
      Economic growth is predominantly seen as a central economic and political goal. Recently, this view has been increasingly criticized and the idea of sustainable degrowth emerged as an alternative paradigm in order to ensure human wellbeing within planetary boundaries. As business activity is a key driving force behind economic growth, the role of corporate organizations in a transition towards a post-growth society is a particularly challenging question. It is for instance still unclear how business models for degrowth- conform organizations could look like. In order to address this research gap, our study aims to elaborate the role and design of organizations and their respective business models within the degrowth context. In this exploratory work, we use a two-step approach: Firstly, based on a systematic literature review we provide an overview on business-oriented findings in the degrowth literature. Based on this, we derive elements for a conceptual framework development to consolidate fragmented findings within the degrowth discourse. The resulting framework serves to describe principles for the design of degrowth-conform organizations. Subsequently, we conduct interviews with three CEOs of certified Benefit Corporations (B Corps) and an in-depth case study with four interviewees with a prime example of a B Corp: Dr. Bronner’s. Overall, our findings show that B Corps to some extent successfully implement numerous degrowth- conform elements within our current economic system. However, tensions regarding growth-orientation remain, and further need for research regarding the role and design of organizations for degrowth is identified."