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Debate: How social enterprises can help rethink business growth

This article was jointly written by Benjamin Huybrechts, professor in Entrepreneurship and Organization at emlyon business school, Casablanca campus, Thomas Bauwens, researcher at Utrecht University, and Frédéric Dufays, researcher at KU Leuven.

The rationale for economic growth at the macro level has been hotly debated in academic and policy circles. On the one hand, growth is conventionally said to bring jobs and economic prosperity to people. On the other, growth with, as its corollary, ever-increasing consumption, have put a massive strain on the Earth’s natural resources and the living organisms depending on them, while economic inequalities are still high in many countries and human happiness remains stagnant.

As the adverse social and environmental consequences of the blind pursuit of gross domestic product (GDP) expansion are becoming increasingly blatant, a growing number of economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen have underscored the need to develop alternative approaches and indicators regarding macro-level growth.

Going beyond the macro

We believe that debate on growth cannot be led only at the macro level and ignore the question of growth at the micro, organisational level. In an influential 1970 article “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits”, the economist Milton Friedman defended the idea that a company’s sole objective should be the long-term increase in shareholder wealth. Indeed, the overall goal of economic growth is associated, at the micro level, with a logic of profit maximisation for capital. In this view, organisational growth is considered as the holy grail for businesses. […]

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benjamin Huybrechts, emlyon business school

I am an Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Organization at emlyon business school, Casablanca campus. I hold a PhD in Management from HEC Liège (University of Liège) and I spent my post-doctoral research stay at Saïd Business School (University of Oxford). My research topics include entrepreneurial teams and the emergence and diffusion of « hybrid » organizational forms emerging from social and cooperative entrepreneurship. I study these topics in fields such as fair trade, recycling and renewable energy, with a particular interest in Africa.

More information on Benjamin Huybrechts:
• His CV online
• His ResearchGate page
• His Academia page
• His Google Scholar page


Further readings…

  • Bauwens T., Huybrechts B., Dufays F. (2019). Understanding the Diverse Scaling Strategies of Social Enterprises as Hybrid Organizations : The Case of Renewable Energy Cooperatives. Organization & Environment, forthcoming. DOI:  10.1177/1086026619837126.
    Read abstract online

By the same author:

Debate: How social enterprises can help rethink business growth

Apr 3rd, 2019|Categories: Benjamin Huybrechts, Strategy & Governance|

The rationale for economic growth at the macro level has been hotly debated in academic and policy circles. On the one hand, growth is conventionally said to bring jobs and economic prosperity to people. On the other, growth with, as its corollary, ever-increasing consumption, have put a massive strain on the Earth’s natural resources and the living organisms depending on them...

Apr 3rd, 2019|

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