Growth versus ‘good growth’: A world of difference
Is growth always a good thing?
This seemingly obvious question actually invites us to a deeper, more nuanced consideration of what, in a world of growing large-scale risks, constitutes true prosperity — and perhaps to refocus our strategies on more resilient outcomes.
In this article, PwC UK directors Mark Ambler, Tom Beagent, Andrew Thurley argue that a narrow focus on growth for growth’s sake can have the effect of steering resources towards shorter-term economic gains — gains which can be perishable and often are not shared. Thus, they suggest, some forms of growth can actually exact a higher cost in resources than any short-term return they might generate.
By contrast, ‘good growth’ — which factors in social and environmental issues and focuses on creating longer-term, sustainable benefits for more stakeholders — can be both more tangible and more lasting.
This is an issue we’ve looked at before here at Resilience. But in this article we take a fresh look at the question through the lens of the recently released World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Global Risks 2014 report — and its call for longer-term thinking on building systemic resilience and prosperity.
According to the WEF report, three of the top six highest-impact risks facing our globe in 2014 — water crises, climate change, and extreme weather events — are environmental in nature. Under such ominous conditions, the authors ask us to focus on how we can achieve ‘good growth’.
Addressing both economic and environmental stakeholders, while ensuring long-term resilience, requires a mental leap to a new way of describing growth. This in turn requires a new way of measuring the potential total impact of an organisation’s decisions, and a new, more collaborative approach that takes into account the larger benefits at stake — and acts accordingly.
While this is a challenging task, it is an essential one. Businesses, after all, perform better in a society that is stable, healthy and prosperous. Mark, Tom and Andrew make a clear case for rethinking our definition of growth with an eye toward building exactly this kind of systemic resilience — and sustainable prosperity for all.
As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts in the Comments section.