Degrowth in business: An oxymoron or a viable business model for sustainability?

Authors: Yaryna Khmara and Jakub Kronenberg

Type of publication: Article peer review

Based on a review of literature connecting degrowth and business, we attempt to operationalize degrowth in the context of business activity, and consider what degrowth can add to the business models for sustainability discussed so far. In most discussions on degrowth, economic activity has been reduced to relatively marginal activities. We see a need to connect degrowth to more typical business activities, because business is an essential part of the modern world. We put forward seven criteria which can be used to assess whether a company follows the degrowth paradigm: (1) Alternative understanding of business; (2) From business activity to activism and social movement; (3) Collaborative value creation; (4) Democratic governance; (5) Corporate leaders’ commitment to company values in personal life; (6) Reduction of environmental impacts at all stages of product/service life-cycle; (7) Making products that last and are repairable. We use these criteria to assess the performance of a case study company, Patagonia, which is known for its environmental and social record. Our assessment is not meant to be comprehensive, but to illustrate the relevance of the seven criteria. Our criteria offer guidance for aligning business activity with the broader degrowth objectives, and our analysis complements the recommendations made so far for degrowth in national and local policies.

Reference to the article
Khmara, Yaryna and Jakub Kronenberg (2018), ‘Degrowth in business: An oxymoron or a viable business model for sustainability?’, Journal of Cleaner Production, 177: 721–731.

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