• 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.