Some fundamental obstacles prevent most big companies adopting methods or business models that are more sustainable. C Corporation company directors have their hands tied by legal requirements to maximise shareholder value. Stock markets appear to believe shareholder value is entwined with relentless growth targets. Though too many companies chasing growth in a world of finite resources is unsustainable. Prize challenges accelerate sustainable business growth.
Since 2007, an alternative B Corporation structure allows businesses to also incorporate social and environmental impact factors alongside financial returns in their articles of association (articles of incorporation in North America). These articles set out a company’s constitution and the responsibilities of its directors. Both B and C Corps are realising that crowdsourcing initiatives through open innovation and prize challenges for sustainability can boost their social, environmental and reputational returns.
Under B Corp articles, the purpose of a for-profit company is able to be more than making money for shareholders. Nevertheless, it has to make enough money to remain solvent and accomplish its sustainable social and environmental aims. Sustainable business growth by B Corps can be measured by factors other than turnover or profit, or market share. Some call it eco-capitalism.
A shift of emphasis has been accelerated by the global pandemic that has so far taken over one million lives. Personal losses have influenced collective mindsets and priorities. Sustainability is higher on the agenda for individuals, businesses and governments alike. The UK government, for example, has brought forward its carbon emissions reduction target from 2050 to 2035. The U.S. Biden Administration has earmarked $100 billion to advance clean energy on the electric grid. China is transitioning from high-carbon industries.
There are mixed views on the roles and nature of technology. Humans are tool makers, and today’s technology is the latest round of what might have started with making a stick in to a spear. Technology itself is neither good nor bad. Some call it bad as AI and robots are perceived as going to cause unemployment. Yet technology has given us life preserving Covid vaccines. Varied outcomes depend on how people choose to use technology. Friction exists between technology being used with humanity or in purely data-led ways (to maximise profit). B Corps structures allow more space for humanity.
Here are examples of major businesses crowdsourcing innovation and using prize challenges for sustainability purposes.
This article was first published by Crowdsourcing Week, and please continue reading it at https://crowdsourcingweek.com/blog/crowdsourcing-innovation-and-prize-challenges-for-sustainability/