“All economic activities serve the common good” – these are the words in the Bavarian constitu-tion. However, the reality is often different: profit seeking and obligations to shareholders are dominating corporate acting. Employees, suppliers, the climate and environment concerns are often only a second priority. A current approach that tries to combine corporate actions with democratic values as well as with social and environmental targets is called the “common good economy (GWÖ)”. Its core tenet is that monetary profit is no longer the sole objective of corpo-rate actions, but a means to reach the true aim: to contribute to the common good to the largest extent possible.

The aim of the scientific project “Comparing common good economy with corporate sustainabil-ity strategies (GIVUN)” is to provide a historical and economic-ethical context as well as empiri-cal research for an economy that is oriented after the common good. Furthermore, there will be an evaluation of the concept of the common good economy and other Corporate-Social-Responsibility (CSR) instruments. This will look at their transformative potential for integrating sustainability objectives into the corporate orientation.  Focus of the project will be research about the impacts of the corporate common good orientation on concrete working and production conditions.   Special regard will be paid to environmental effects and exploring conditions for the up-scaling and diffusion of common good economy for big corporations.

Prof. Dr. Harald Welzer leads the project with Dr. Bernd Sommer in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Ludger Heidbrink, who is part of the professorship Practical Philosophy at the ChristianAlbrechts University in Kiel. While the Kiel team works on a systematic comparison of common good economy strategies with sustainability strategies, the team at Norbert-Elias-Center for Transfor-mation Design & Research (NEC) will work on the empirical part of the project. In that part, the practitioner partners, such as the outdoors outfitter Vaude, the print shop Oktoberdruck, the backery Märkisches Landbrot and the supplier of organic frozen food Ökofrost will be surveyed on their efforts to contribute to the common good economy.

Together with big corporations such as Deutsche Post, dm-drogerie markt and Otto Group, the project team will identify viable ways to work toward a common good economy.

Mar 2015 to Feb 2018

Dr. Bernd Sommer & Prof. Dr. Harald Welzer, Europa-Universität Flensburg, Norbert Elias Center for Transformation Design & Research (NEC)

Prof. Dr. Ludger Heidbrink (Philosophisches Seminar der Chrsitian-Albrecht-Universität zu Kiel)