Economy for the Common Good

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Economy for the Common Good
FoundedOctober 6, 2010 (2010-october-06)
Founded atWien, Austria
TypeVoluntary association
  • international

Economy for the Common Good (ECG) is a global social movement that advocates an alternative economic model, which is beneficial to people, the planet and future generations.[1] The common good economy puts the common good, cooperation and community in the foreground. Human dignity, solidarity, ecological sustainability, social justice and democratic participation are also described as values of the common good economy. The movement behind the model started off in Austria, Bavaria and South Tyrol in 2010 and quickly spread to many countries throughout the EU. It now has active groups in Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia.[2] As of 2021, the movement consists of over 11,000 supporters, 180 local chapters[3] and 35 associations.[4]

Christian Felber coined the term "Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie" (Economy for the Common Good) in a best-selling book, published in 2010.[5] According to Felber, it makes much more sense for companies to create a so-called "common good balance sheet" than a financial balance sheet. The common good balance sheet is a value-based measurement tool and reporting method for businesses, individuals, communities, and institutions,[6] which shows the extent to which a company abides by values like human dignity, solidarity and economic sustainability.[7]

More than 2,000 organizations, mainly companies,[8] but also schools, universities, municipalities, and cities, support the concept of the Economy for the Common Good. A few hundred have used the Common Good Balance sheet as a means to do their “non-financial” reporting.[9] These include Sparda-Bank Munich,[10] the Rhomberg Group and Vaude Outdoor.[11] Worldwide nearly 60 municipalities are actively involved in spreading the idea.

The ECG movement sees itself in a historical tradition from Aristotle to Adam Smith[12] and refers to the fundamental values of democratic constitutions.


The model has five underlying goals:[13]

  1. Reuniting the economy with the fundamental values guiding society in general. Encouraging business decisions that promote human rights, justice, and sustainability.
  2. Transitioning to an economic system that defines serving the “common good” as its principal goal. The business community and all other economic actors should live up to the universal values set down in constitutions across the globe. These include dignity, social justice, sustainability, and democracy. These do not include profit maximization and market domination.
  3. Shifting to a business system that measures success according to the values outlined above. A business is successful and reaps the benefits of its success not when it makes more and more profits, but when it does its best to serve the public good.
  4. Setting the cornerstones of the legal framework for the economy democratically, in processes which result in concrete recommendations for reforming and reevaluating national constitutions and international treaties.
  5. Closing the gaps between feeling and thinking, technology and nature, economy and ethics, science and spirituality.

The Economy for the Common Good calls for reevaluating economic relations by, for example, putting limits on financial speculation and encouraging companies to produce socially-responsible products.[14]

Common Good Balance Sheet[edit]

The common good balance sheet is an assessment procedure for private individuals, communities, companies and institutions to check the extent to which they serve the common good.[15] Ecological, social and other aspects are assessed.[16][17] The procedure is part of the common good economy and was developed by Christian Felber. In conventional balance sheets, only economic value categories such as profit are taken into account, whereas the common good balance sheet allows reporting on value to society and environment, for example.

Common good balance sheets should be easy for everyone to understand;[18] companies should be able to make their common good performance transparent on a single page.[19][15] In doing so, companies can decide whether to prepare the balance sheet on their own, assess each other in a "peer-group", or appoint an independent auditor.[20][15] This distinguishes the common good balance sheet from conventional sustainability reports, which are prepared by the companies themselves.[16] The balancing process for small companies is relatively cheap (1,000 Euros).[21]

To date, around 250 companies in the German-speaking world prepare their balance sheets according to Gemeinwohl guidelines,[16][22][23][24] in Europe there are 350-400 companies (as of early 2016).[25][26][27] In total, there are 590 German, 631 Austrian, 67 Swiss and 70 South Tyrolean companies that have registered as supporters of Gemeinwohl-Bilanz.[28][29] All peer-group and externally audited Gemeinwohl-Bilanzen are publicly available.[30]

According to proponents of the movement, the success of a company should not be determined by how much profit it makes, but rather by the degree to which it contributes to the common good.[31] Companies receive more points in this balance sheet when, for example, employees are satisfied with their jobs or when the top managers do not receive exorbitantly more than the lowest paid worker.[32]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Bernd Sommer, Klara Stumpf, Ralf Köhne, Josefa Kny, Jasmin Wiefek (2019), "Die zivilgesellschaftliche Bewegung der "Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie" (GWÖ) aus Perspektive der sozialwissenschaftlichen Transformationsforschung und Praktischen Philosophie", Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik : Zfwu (in German), Baden-Baden: Nomos, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 448–457, doi:10.5771/1439-880X-2019-3-448, ISSN 1439-880X, S2CID 213433319, 2017203-5{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Lindner, Matthias. "Who is ECG". Economy for the common good. Retrieved 2021-04-26.
  3. ^ "Local Chapters". Economy for the common good. Archived from the original on 2020-07-12. Retrieved 2021-04-26.
  4. ^ "Economy for the Common Good - Official Website". Archived from the original on 2009-11-21.
  5. ^ Felber, Christian (2010). Die Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie – Das Wirtschaftsmodell der Zukunft. Deuticke. ISBN 978-3-552-06137-8.
  6. ^ Niklas S. Mischkowski, Simon Funcke, Michael Kress-Ludwig, Klara H. Stumpf (2018-12-01), "Die Gemeinwohl-Bilanz – Ein Instrument zur Bindung und Gewinnung von Mitarbeitenden und Kund*innen in kleinen und mittleren Unternehmen?", NachhaltigkeitsManagementForum | Sustainability Management Forum (in German), vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 123–131, doi:10.1007/s00550-018-0472-0, ISSN 2522-5995, S2CID 254059236{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Meier, Susanne (Nov 17, 2012). "Menschlichkeit statt Finanzgewinn 16 Tiroler Pionier-Unternehmen erstellen erstmals eine Gemeinwohlbilanz, indem sie ihre Firma in Punkten wie soziale Gerechtigkeit und ökologische Nachhaltigkeit bewerten". Tiroler Tageszeitung.
  8. ^ "Pionierunternehmen". Archived from the original on 2020-08-12.
  9. ^ "What is ECG". Economy for the common good. Archived from the original on 2020-07-02. Retrieved 2021-04-26.
  10. ^ Common Good Report from the Sparda Bank Munich, Germany, 2011
  11. ^ Spengler, Hanna (November 8, 2012). "Kooperation statt Konkurrenz - Die "Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie"". aktuell.
  12. ^ "Gemeinwohl in der Geschichte".
  13. ^ Christian Felber and Gus Hagelberg. "The Economy for the Common Good - A Workable, Transformative Ethics-Based Alternative" (PDF). The Next System Project.
  14. ^ Koch, Hannes (April 14, 2012). "Der Finanzmissionar - Ein österreichischer Wirtschaftsprediger will den Kapitalismus von innen angreifen – ganz freundlich. Jetzt hat er sich mit einem bayerischen Banker verbündet". die tageszeitung.
  15. ^ a b c Arbeitsbuch zur Voll-Bilanz, Version 5.0, Stand: 2018
  16. ^ a b c Öko-Versorger Polarstern zieht eine Gemeinwohlbilanz, von Jonas Gerding, Wirtschafts-Woche, 29. Februar 2016
  17. ^ 3. Internationale Gemeinwohl-Bilanz-Pressekonferenz, Fona, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 24. April 2014
  18. ^ Profit ohne Maximierung, von Markus Klohr, Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 10. März 2016
  19. ^ Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie und Energiewende, PV Magazin, 24. Februar 2016
  20. ^ Wie nachhaltig ist mein Unternehmen?, von Anne Haeming, Spiegel-online, 26. Mai 2016
  21. ^ Punkten für Gemeinwohl-Bilanz,, 9. Juli 2015
  22. ^ Ein Banker geht aufs Ganze, enorm, Ausgabe 1/2016
  23. ^ Gemeinwohl-Bilanz: Darum will eine Freiburger Firma mitmachen, Badische Zeitung, 16. Dezember 2014
  24. ^ Die Gemeinwohl-Bilanz, Unternehmen sollen Nutzen stiften, nicht nur Rendite, Forum Nachhaltig Wirtschaften, 1. Januar 2015
  25. ^ Das aktuelle Wirtschaftssystem produziert eine Endlosreihe von Kollateralschäden, Die Farbe des Geldes, online-Magazin der Triodos Bank, 3. Juni 2016
  26. ^ Gemeinwohl-Orientierung bringt Unternehmen langfristig Vorteile, Schwä, 22. April 2016
  27. ^ Ökonomen wollen Ex-Attac-Aktivist Felber aus Lehrbuch streichen, von Andreas Sator, Der Standard, 8. April 2016
  28. ^ UnterstützerInnen der Gemeinwohlökonomie
  29. ^ Die Saubermänner, von Elena Witzeck, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10. März 2016
  30. ^ GWOe-Berichte, Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie
  31. ^ Johannes Pennekamp: Die Bessermacher. In: der Freitag Newspaper. September 26, 2011
  32. ^ Guido Mingels: Die Achse der Guten. In: Der Spiegel. October 10, 2011

External links[edit]