Alternative business approaches for sustainable prosperity
b y F E R G U S L Y O N
In the second blog of our series, CUSP deputy director Prof Fergus Lyon introduces the agenda of our research projects on alternative forms of businesses and social enterprises.
There is much talk about sustainability and the need for action on key environmental issues such as climate change and the quality of the environment we live and work in. Changing consumption patterns is central but so is the way we organise our communities and our economy. Around the world there are innovations in how business and finance can help the transition to a more sustainable future. It is these practical alternatives that will be the focus of a stream of research within the new Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity. We have a vision of sustainable prosperity as ways of flourishing within finite resources. This opens up the opportunity for a wide range of different approaches, each with their own challenges but also with examples of alternative solutions.
This research therefore needs to go beyond an interest only in larger companies and the brands we see around us. Most of the global economy is made up of smaller enterprises which have different challenges to corporations.
We are particularly interested in the alternative forms of businesses such as sustainability focused businesses and social enterprises. These are organisations trading but with a core environmental or social purpose. Through this they can offer alternative ways of tackling social and environmental problems and exploring the alternative views of prosperity. These enterprises are focused on providing products and services that contribute to living well, having fun, improving health and protecting the environment. However, it also requires new ways of balancing commercial goals with social and sustainable aspirations. These enterprises have to survive in uncertain financial climates while not losing site of their main objectives or the quality of the working environment.
Research on social enterprise at Middlesex University therefore explores the diversity of approaches, the social entrepreneurial opportunities arising, the investment required and the challenges faced. By understanding these forms of change and these alternatives, we can explore how organisations for sustainable prosperity can scale up their positive impacts. Our new centre welcomes other researchers sharing our interest in these alternatives.