‘This project helped bridge the gap between the academic and the business world.'
- Student project
Within our current, linear economic system, consumerism has a major impact on the environment and the availability of resources. Overproduction, waste and overconsumption are consequences of a system mainly focused on increasing financial profits. A degrowth economy, on the other hand, focuses on reducing consumption and production, with social and environmental wellbeing as indicators of prosperity. Can degrowth be a viable alternative to our current system? MSc in Business Studies student Stanislav Parovyi researched how companies in the Netherlands perceive degrowth by discussing innovations and finding out if these are feasible solutions.
‘I did this project together with a fellow student who has a background in finance. Combined with my knowledge of marketing and economics, we were able to address this wicked problem from both the financial and managerial/business developer perspective. The companies we interviewed were large manufacturing companies, including Douwe Egberts, Philips, medical company Metrex, and specialty industrial machinery company Semperit. We presented them with a list of innovations based on a sufficiency-driven business model and talked to company representatives to get their perspective on the feasibility of these degrowth innovations. The innovations included, for example, durable manufacturing, educating consumers on overconsumption, and decreasing sales.’
‘Our commissioner for this research was Dr. Egbert Dommerholt, Professor Biobased Business Valorisation at Hanze UAS. Building more theory for future research was one of the reasons behind this project as we were moving in uncharted territory. At the same time, the research can inspire companies to be trendsetters in this area. On a broader, societal level, the research can motivate consumers to be more conservative of resources and create less waste. While degrowth requires responsibility of companies, consumers also need to be more proactive and adjust their consumer patterns accordingly.’
‘Remarkably, every company we interviewed was highly sceptical about majority of the degrowth innovations, claiming their counterproductivity to conventional business practices, which among many concerns, may scare away investors. This is mostly related to how we estimate success for companies in our current system – through KPIs, revenues and sales. If sustainability is not perceived and measured as an actual value, companies will lose their advantage. Looking into new KPIs to evaluate sustainability efforts is imperative for success. However, our research also showed that durable manufacturing was met with a positive outlook by all. This means designing products to have a longer life cycle so consumers don’t need to buy new products as often.’
‘This project made me appreciate applied sciences more as it helped bridge the gap between the academic and the business world. The added value is that we went out to actual companies and talked to people who have been in the industry for a long time and know how innovations will affect the business. With our research we have been able to identify problems with regard to degrowth and put them out there for companies, students and faculty to benefit from. I think the idea of degrowth needs to gain momentum and once some companies start doing it, they will function as an example for others. The new infrastructure must be built around companies who lead the way.’
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