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Contributors: Gebauer, Jana (IÖW, Germany)


Jana Gebauer arbeitet am Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung (IÖW) und forscht zu Ansätzen, die den Zweck und die Rolle von Unternehmen in der (Postwachstums-)Gesellschaft neu denken sowie Wege zur Verschränkung einzelwirtschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Wertschöpfung weisen.

Scientific paper contribution: Business, postgrowth – theses and recommendations
The paper is co-authored by Prof. Dr. Angelika Zahrnt

Abstract: Businesses are not only driving contemporary ideas of progressive economic growth. They are also driven by them as they often perceive an economic and societal pressure to permanently grow in size. At the same time, many companies face stagnant or shrinking markets, resource scarcities, crises or far-reaching demographic trends. Academic and political debates on limits to growth and post-growth economies leave a blank gap where they ought to provide (and acknowledge) companies with visions and strategies for development paths that do not centre on economic growth. We aim to fill this gap on the basis of empirical studies on small and medium-sized companies (SME) in German-speaking countries. An online survey sheds light on SME’s growth expectations and performance indicators in relation to founding motives, firm attributes or competitive positions. In-depth case studies of non- and post-growth firms serve to identify promising business strategies and scaling practices. Our presentation aims to discuss theses and recommendations regarding role and options of SME in post-growth economies as well as respective framework conditions.

2. Contribute to the Special Session Walk the Line: Transformative Practices for Post-growth Consumption & Production

Scientific paper contribution 3: Successful Non-Growing Companies
This paper is authored by Andrea Liesen and co-authored by Christian Dietsche & Jana Gebauer.

Abstract: Suggested concepts of post-growth economies have so far shed little light on the functioning of business. With this paper, we aim to translate discussions on post-growth economies to the company level and examine ten Successful Non-Growing Companies (SNCs) with regard to their motivations, key performance indicators and strategies. We find that a common feature among these companies is that quantitative growth, measured e.g. in sales or market share, is clearly subordinated to qualitative growth. Not "bigger" but "better" appears to be the dominant management philosophy. Better, and ultimately the way in which SNCs measure success, refers to a diverse set of indicators, including product quality, efficiency, unused resources, quality of life, the social and environmental value of products or local embeddedness. We postulate the concept of SNCs has potential to support the cultural shift needed on the company level for the transformation towards post-growth economies. Given the limited scalability of our results and relative novelty of the subject matter, we use our finding to formulate avenues for future research.