How can business prepare for the new economy?

by Jane Farago

On Wednesday 20 March, Net Balance Foundation, in partnership with 3 Pillars Network, hosted an event to explore the question ‘How can business prepare for the new economy?’ Natalie Nicholles presented the work of the New Economics Foundation (nef) a UK based think tank that has been challenging traditional economic models since 1986. Natalie provided an overview of nef’s work, which attempts to provide a more holistic understanding of value, encompassing social, economic and environmental dimensions.

While business has a strong track record of creating material wealth, that wealth has not benefitted all members of society, and has also thrown up a range of systemic problems. Nef’s work highlights these issues, and posits alternative frameworks.

Natalie acknowledged that nef does not have all the answers, but stressed that the economy is not a given, static entity; businesses and individuals can play a role in designing and creating the economy we want. We can work together to design business not as usual.

To apply the relevance of nef’s thinking to a local business context, we talked to Mike Murray, Victorian General Manager of GoGet, a start-up that has grown rapidly since 2002 to become Australia’s largest car sharing business. Mike responded to a point Natalie raised about the importance of getting incentives right: while GoGet take-up has social and environmental benefits, that is incidental to their business model, which focuses on convenience and cost. Natalie also suggested that we move from a focus on labour productivity to a focus on resource productivity. Car sharing provides an example of how resource productivity can present a business opportunity: one share car can replace 23 privately owned vehicles. GoGet has also identified flow-on benefits to other business stakeholders such as carparks and retail strips; their initial resistance to the scheme shifted when businesses recognised unexpected benefits.

This event acted as a taster of the full day conference on The New Economy that Net Balance and 3 Pillars Network are planning for August this year. Keep an eye on our website for further details.

Jane Farago is the General Manager of the Net Balance Foundation (, 
providing services to organisations and companies unable to pay the usual cost of sustainability advisory services.
Jane is based in Melbourne.

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