The Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) just announced a competition for Sustainable Leader Scholarships, for fees-paid places on the new Post-Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership. This new course involves two residentials in the Lake District, UK, and independent study. It is suitable for professionals in the sustainability field seeking greater impact in their work. The deadline for applications is in January. The scholarships are made possible by sponsorship from the Robert Kennedy College. See: http://iflas.blogspot.sg/2013/12/become-sustainable-leadership-scholar.html
Posted by jembendell on December 4, 2013
Posted by jembendell on November 22, 2013
Yesterday the University of Nicosia in Cyprus announced it will launch the world’s first Masters in Digital Currency. That comes hot on the heels of the world’s first Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Exchange, which the University of Cumbria is currently taking applications for 2014. The Certificate of Achievement focuses on community currency and cryptographic currency, as well as their relationship to the emerging ‘sharing economy.’ It is run by the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) and is based on the international short courses run twice during 2013.
Nicosia announced they will accept Bitcoin for all their courses, and IFLAS is setting up the facility to receive Bitcoin payments for the Certificate of Achievement. It is also requesting Bitcoin donations to fund Bitcoin scholarships for students to attend.
The Certificate of Achievement is one module within the new PostGraduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership.
Contact me for further information on the IFLAS course or to fund scholarships: drjbendell @ gmail. com
My TEDx helps explain the reasons why alternative currencies are becoming popular.
Posted by jembendell on July 28, 2013
“Why are we running around trying to be more successful in a system that is driving us to collective suicide?”
At a conference on women’s leadership, I spoke about the role of education in enabling the critical thinking that is necessary for leadership. I explored the relevance of the approach of Charlotte Mason, who founded the Lake District campus in 1892 which is now the home of our Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS). In the talk I challenge participants to question their assumptions in order to drive change, rather than just “succeed” within existing systems that are damaging people and planet. I reveal one famous activist was home schooled, and what his mother told me about her approach to his education. You can discuss this talk in our Linked In group, linked via www.iflas.info
Posted by jembendell on April 21, 2013
I recently wrote a piece for the Guardian entitled “Is sustainable business still possible?” Why ask such a question? Wouldn’t it be disheartening to think it’s too late to avert massive disruption? Well, I don’t think so – after the initial shock and mourning, a new type of commitment can emerge. Not everyone reacts in that way, but I think it’s important to face up to what the science is telling us and then explore the implications, rather than continuing old patterns.
Some might think I’m exaggerating. So here is a quick recap.
Carbon concentrations in the atmosphere have stayed between 180 (ice ages) and 300 (inter glacials) parts per million (ppm) for 800,000 years, possibly up to 20,000,000 years. Now it gone from 325 to 397 ppm in my lifetime. It’s increasing at 2.7 ppm a year.
The average global surface temperature is now about 0.8C above that in 1900. Current projections are a 4 degree rise by 2100; i.e. in the lifetime of babies being born today.
Global warming affects the hydrosphere (water, ice), lithosphere (the land), and atmosphere. The relationship between them is complex, but the hydrosphere has been acting as a buffer, with seas soaking up most of the excess energy trapped by the current 397ppm of CO2.
Heating is speeding up beyond the worst past projections. For instance, NASA in 2007 said that we could lose Arctic summer sea ice by 2030. Now some projections are it will be gone by 2015.
The warming of the Arctic affects those areas most efficient in feeding the world through their exports.
Sea levels have been rising by over 3 mm a year since 1993. The most fertile farmland is low-lying and much will be swamped by sea rise of a meter.
CO2 at 397ppm is probably a death sentence for billions of people, and possibly for civilisation as we know it.
Significant action now will reduce the damage. Yet we don’t have significant action. Our systems for acting together have been failing us, ever since 1987 when the UN General Assembly first recognised climate change as a major problem. Media, politics, economics, monetary systems, intergovernmental processes, religions… We need to ask why, and that doesn’t mean asking who to blame, but delving deeper into causes, and learning more about rapid change processes.
Although significant action now will reduce the damage, it won’t stop massive disruption. So, we need to consider how to help future generations get through the disruption, through the suffering. What kind of ancestors are we? Will we be despised for our stupidity and selfishness? Perhaps. But can some of us help shape ways of life, values, ideas, systems, etc, that might help?
Some of the speakers recently appeared on Sea Change Radio: http://www.cchange.net/2013/03/26/sustainability-adventurers/
Seeking Transformation? Study for an interdisciplinary PhD at the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability
Posted by jembendell on November 25, 2012
“Education is the science of relations”
the founder of our Lake District Campus in 1892
Next year the University of Cumbria launches the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability. As Director of the new Institute, I am currently welcoming inquiries about potential PhD research. We will accept six PhD students, whether full time in residence (typically 3 years), full time away (typically 4 years) or part time (residence or away (typically 5 years). There is one opportunity for receiving a bursary to cover fees. The Institute is based in the heart of the beautiful Lake District in the UK, in the village of Ambleside, with Campuses also in Lancaster and Carlisle.
The Institute has a specific research focus, about which it welcomes proposals. This is in the field of “transition”. All our work on leadership and sustainability seeks to enable personal and collective transitions to living in harmony with each-other and the planet. Leadership that makes a positive difference to communities and environments is the only leadership worth practising or learning. To us, sustainability means that everyone thrives in harmony with the biosphere and future generations. That does not mean maintaining or spreading a particular way of life, but a transition from behaviours and systems that are destructive, towards those that restore the environment and support individual rights, wellbeing, and community. It implies a systemic shift; large numbers of persons and organisations acting in a significantly different way. A transition to sustainability involves promoting ecological integrity, collective wellbeing, real democracy, human rights, support for diversity, economic fairness, community resilience, a culture of peace, compassion and inquiry, and the appreciation of beauty.
Studies of positive transformations suggest this shift will require interacting cultural, economic, technological, behavioural, political and institutional developments at multiple levels. Leaders during social transformations appear to have transcended a concern for self, yet sufficiently sustained their wellbeing, and empowered others. Therefore our work seeks to connect the systemic and the personal, and mobilise insights from diverse schools of thought on how transformations occur. Consequently, our research focuses on actionable knowledge, action research, combining diverse disciplines, linking local with global, and learning from old and new teachings that arise from diverse cultural settings. With us, you will not gain a straight-jacketed PhD in management, or politics, or sociology, but produce insight that is highly relevant and interdisciplinary.
Within the framework of transition, we are particularly interested in three areas.
Transformative Leadership: how to encourage the attributes and competencies that enable someone to participate in social transformation; how organisational and societal transformations occur; how to encourage personal transformations and wellbeing through learning experiences.
Innovative Resourcing and Exchange: innovative ways for people and organisations to share, swap, rent, or exchange, with or without official money; sharing economy, collaborative consumption, complementary currency; implications for business development, international development, and policy; implications for donors and foundations, including more catalytic and transformative philanthropy.
Scaling-Up Transitions: approaches that hold potential for the scale of change required by current global challenges; public policies for scaling social innovations; transformative cross-sectoral alliances; disruptive innovations in existing markets and industries.
If your research interests relate to this, please read on about our approach, to consider whether to submit an initial inquiry.
At the Institute we will combine what is normally expected for PhDs, with our own particular emphasis on purpose-led inter-disciplinary actionable research. Many people are unaware of what researching for a PhD involves, and mistake it for the writing of a thesis/book, or the winning of a credential. The thesis and the credential are the results, but the PhD process is about becoming a reflective and skilled researcher and communicator of research. Therefore PhD research with the Institute will involve the supervisor helping the doctoral candidate with most of the following elements:
- developing and applying professionally ones sense of social purpose and without a completely fixed view. Specifically, we are interested in inquiries in personal and collective transition to fair and sustainable societies (broadly defined)
- learning how to research (how to turn ideas, beliefs or doubts into inquiries with suitable research; which means learning about ontologies, epistemologies, methodologies, methods)
- learning how to assess existing intellectual disciplines for the way they can both inform and restrict inquiry on the chosen topic; some sociology plus at least one other social science discipline are expected (relevant subjects include management, design, international development etc)
- unlearning some existing assumptions in ways that help one to become critically reflective yet action-oriented in all aspects of life and work
- learning how to analyse primary “data” of forms relevant to one’s chosen inquiry and to develop findings that are relevant to broader contexts (data can include lived experience; but then one needs to learn how to analyse ones experience, not just re-tell or re-articulate it)
- learning how to identify findings that both contribute to existing fields of knowledge, but also a particular field of practice (i.e. to seek both academic and non-academic relevance for ones work)
- learning how to communicate findings in ways that reach people in academia and beyond, including presenting findings in ways that can inform education (such as online or in-person lectures)
Proposals need to reflect some of this journey, and a thesis will need to demonstrate these outcomes were pursued and somewhat achieved. Myself and my co-supervisors will help doctoral candidates along this journey: you don’t have to have everything mapped out already, but be open to this depth of inquiry. Information on what I do is on the University website.
Still interested? Then please send me some information about yourself and your idea in the following format, by December 17th 2012.
Your Idea: Tell me in half a page what your area of research is, what your overall research question might be, why it is relevant to leadership or sustainability or transition, what existing research you have done on it, what stakeholders you have engaged about your research idea, and what existing theories/disciplines (if any) you think are relevant to it. If you have a provisional research question, then include it.
Your Motivation: Tell me in half a page why you want to explore this, in terms of your personal and professional development. Also explain how you will fund, or seek to fund, yourself, and what format you would go for (full time, full time away, part-time)
Please attach a one page CV and a sample of existing writing, ideally already published.
That is 2 pages in total (1 on research and 1 on CV), and a piece of writing.
Provide a skype ID or google talk ID so that we can interact more easily (my skype: jembendell).
I will contact you within one month of you submitting your information, potentially to discuss further your ideas and help you prepare a full proposal to the University.
Please note that information on our Institute is not yet available online – by joining the Institute you will help to shape our emerging programmes.
Dr Jem Bendell
Professor of Sustainability Leadership
Director, Institute for Leadership and Sustainability
University of Cumbria, UK
jem dot bendell at cumbria.ac.uk
Posted by jembendell on November 8, 2012
Διακήρυξη του Δράπανου για τις αλληλέγγυες ανταλλαγές
11th October 2012, Drapanos Crete / 11 Οκτωβρίου 2012, Δράπανος, Κρήτη
Individuals, communities and environments are the true source of our wealth and well-being.
Οι άνθρωποι, οι κοινότητες και το περιβάλλον στο οποίο ζουν είναι η αληθινή πηγή πλούτου και ευημερίας.
Therefore we develop alternative means of exchange between individuals and organisations to foster more cooperative and equitable relations.
Γιαυτό αναπτύσσουμε εναλλακτικούς τρόπους και μέσα ανταλλαγών μεταξύ ανθρώπων και κοινοτήτων με σκοπό να ενισχύσουμε συνεργατικές και ισότιμες μεταξύ μας σχέσεις
Although we may focus on our own communities, we share this principle with other communities.
Ακόμη και αν η εστίαση και το ενδιαφέρον μας είναι στις δικές μας κοινότητες, εν τούτοις μοιραζόμαστε αυτές τις Αρχές με άλλες κοινότητες και δίκτυα.
Therefore we commit to work together in Greece and worldwide, to improve our practices, so that more communities connect to their own abundance.
Γιαυτό δεσμευόμαστε να εργαστούμε μαζί, στην Ελλάδα και στον κόσμο, για να βελτιώσουμε τις πρακτικές μας, έτσι ώστε περισσότερες κοινότητες και δίκτυα να έρθουν σε επαφή και να συνεργαστούν με σκοπό τις ανταλλαγές στη βάση του δικού τους πλούτου και αφθονίας.
Our efforts are part of a greater movement to make economic activity more accountable, socially beneficial and environmentally sustainable.
Οι προσπάθειες μας αποτελούν μέρος ενός ευρύτερου κινήματος για πιο υπεύθυνη, κοινωνικά ωφέλιμη και περιβαλλοντικά βιώσιμη οικονομική δραστηριότητα
Our work must develop ever expanding circles of cooperation, exchange and learning.
Η δραστηριότητα μας θα πρέπει να μας οδηγεί σε αυξανόμενους κύκλους συνεργασίας, ανταλλαγών και μάθησης
We invite others who share these aims to join us in a growing movement and emerging profession on community exchange.
Προσκαλούμε όλους όσους συμμερίζονται το ίδιο όραμα να γίνουν μέρος αυτού του αναπτυσσόμενου κινήματος για τις αλληλέγγυες ανταλλαγές.
This Declaration was agreed on 11th October 2012 by participants in a two day conference on community exchange, at the ‘European Sustainability Academy (ESA) in the village of Drapanos, Crete, Greece.
Το κείμενο υπογράφουν οι παρακάτω συμμετέχοντες στη Διάσκεψη για τη βιωσιμότητα στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ακαδημία Βιωσιμότητας στο Δράπανο της Κρήτης.
Please add your name, and if possible, organisation, in the comments below, to indicate your endorsement of the declaration.
Παρακαλούμε συμπληρώστε το όνομά σας και, εάν είναι δυνατόν, τον οργανισμό σας στα παρακάτω σχόλια για να εκδηλώσετε την προσυπογραφή της Διακήρυξης.
If you want to engage with the emerging network on community exchange, please email: info@EuroSustainability.org.
Επίσης εάν θέλετε να εμπλακείτε στο υπό δημιουργία δίκτυο για τις κοινοτικές συναλλαγές, παρακαλούμε επικοινωνήστε στο email : info@EuroSustainability.org
The undersigned endorse the Drapanos Declaration / Οι υπογράφοντες/ουσες επικυρώνουν τη Διακήρυξη του Δραπάνου:
|NAME/ ΟΝΟΜΑ||LOCATION/ ΤΟΠΟΘΕΣΙΑ|
|Μαρία Ανδριανάκη /Maria Andrianaki||Drapanos, Crete|
|Σπύρος Ανδρουλιδάκης/ Spiros Androulidakis||Rethymno, Crete|
|Prof. Jem Bendell||Cumbria, UK|
|Jackie Bergman||Stockholm, Sweden|
|Ian Doyle||Geneva, Switzerland|
|Αφροδίτη Φραγκομιχελάκη/ Afroditi Fragomichelaki||Chania, Crete|
|Tomas Greco Jr.||Arizona, USA|
|Γιάννης Γρηγορίου/ Giannis Grigoriou||Volos, Greece|
|Sharon Jackson||Drapanos, Crete|
|Hamish Jenkins||Geneva, Switzerland|
|Μελίτα Λαζαράτου/ Melita Lazaratou||Drapanos, Crete|
|Sergio Lub||California, USA|
|Dominique Maldague||Chania, Crete|
|Μαργαρίτα Ναυπακτίτου/ Margarita Nafpaktitou||Chania, Crete|
|Eλενα Παγάνη/ Elena Pagani||Rethymno, Crete|
|Αλέκος Πανταζής/ Alekos Pantazis||Rethymno, Crete|
|Γεωργία Πολάκη/ Georgia Polaki||Chania, Crete|
|Sybille Saint Girons||Paris, France|
|Matthew Slater||Geneva, Switzerland|
|Κώστας Σταυρουλάκης/ Kostas Stavroulakis||Chania, Crete|
These signatories participate in the following organisations, while endorsing the Declaration in a personal capacity. (Οι υπογράφοντες συμμετέχουν στους παρακάτω οργανισμούς, ενώ προσυπογράφουν τη Διακήρυξη ατομικά):
Bergman Ledning och Utveckling, Sweden; Beyond Money, USA; Chania Exchange Network, Crete / Δίκτυο Ανταλλαγών Χανίων, Κρήτη; Community Forge, Geneva; European Sustainability Academy (ESA), Crete / Ευρωπαϊκή Ακαδημία Βιωσιμότητας, Κρήτη; Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, University of Cumbria, UK / Ινστιτούτο για την Ηγεσία και τη Βιωσιμότητα, University of Cumbria, UK; GYV
A LIthuania; Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania; Lifeworth Consulting, Geneva; Rethymnon Exchange Network- Crete / Αλληλέγγυο Ανταλλακτικό Δίκτυο Ρεθύμνου Ροδιά, Κρήτη / United Nations NGLS, Geneva; Magnisia Exchange and Solidarity Network, Volos, Greece / Δίκτυο Ανταλλαγών και Αλληλεγγύης Μαγνησίας Les Valeureux, Paris.
Please add your name, and if possible, organisation, in the comments below, to indicate your endorsement of the declaration.Παρακαλούμε συμπληρώστε το όνομά σας και, εάν είναι δυνατόν, τον οργανισμό σας στα παρακάτω σχόλια για να εκδηλώσετε την προσυπογραφή της Διακήρυξης.
Posted by jembendell on October 3, 2012
Here is the final line up for the 1.5 day event in Greece on alternative exchange and currencies… There’s still time to register for the summit. Crisis is opportunity!
An introduction to money and its effects
Thomas Greco, best selling author on community currencies 1hr
Why “Sustainability” Professionals Need to Embrace Alternative Exchange
Professor Jem Bendell, Uni of Cumbria 30 mins
Coffee, 15 mins
The Effects of Different Currencies: The Trading Game
Jem Bendell and Sybille Saint Girons, Les Valeureux, 1hr 15mins
Experiences with TEM in Volos and Chania
Giannis Grigoriou, Volos TEM & Giannis Bouleros, Chania TEM, 1hr
Lessons from Argentina’s Social Money Movement 2001-2002
Sergio Lub, Favors.org and Thomas Greco, 45 mins
Design and Software Issues for Alternative Exchange
Matthew Slater, Community Forge 45 mins
Tea, 15 mins
Thomas Greco, Matthew Slater, Giannis Grigoriou, Hamish Jenkins (United Nations) and Sybille Saint Girons. Chaired by Jem Bendell, 1hr
Breakout meetings on key questions, 30 mins
Research findings on alternative exchange in Greece
Irene Sotiropoulou, University of Crete, 45 mins
Coffee, 15 mins
Key success factors and limiting factors in mutual credit
Thomas Greco, 1hr
Matthew Slater, 30 mins
Facilitated dialogue on key questions from breakout meetings
Facilitated by Jem Bendell, 1hr
Conclusions on next steps
Facilitated by Jem Bendell, 30 mins
In the afternoon, depending on interest and attendance, experts and practitioners in community currencies may convene for a hosted dialogue on “Globalising Localisation: how can we help each other?”
Posted by jembendell on September 29, 2012
This October, I will be speaking at the following events:
Singapore, on 4th, at Syinc, evening talk on the future of money
Crete, Greece, 10th and 11th, at ESA, 2 day workshop on alternative exchange and currency systems
Barcelona, Spain, on 19th, at Future Economy, a talk on the future of luxury and brands
Lancaster, UK, 31st, at University of Cumbria, with Thomas Greco on alternative exchange and currency systems
Posted by jembendell on September 1, 2012
People working on the environment, human rights, and social progress have not always had an easy relationship. The idea of “sustainable development” that first became popular 20 years ago was meant to bring them together. Instead, it has enabled an obsession with profit making to creep into thinking and practice in most areas of environment, rights and social progress. On the positive side, that has led to business and banks engaging with these issues more than they might otherwise – something Ive been involved in for the last decades. But what might have been lost in that process?
A speech on rights and media freedoms was the keynote at a festival to celebrate what an amazing future we have ahead of us if we embrace the transition to sustainability. In Sweden, at FuturePerfect, Wikileak’s editor in chief, Julian Assange, delivered a recorded speech from the Embassy where he has been given asylum by Ecuador.
What has Wikileaks got to do with sustainability? Here are some highlights from the talk, and some reflections on what they mean for the “sustainability profession”, by which I mean those of us who have day jobs working on the social and environmental aspects of business, finance and economy.
Assange believes free media is critical to us understanding our society and what challenges we face. Thats key to enough people organising to promote sustainability:
“there is no civilisation, there is no society without media. That is: let’s take away all media, let’s take away all mediums, let’s take away all ability for humans beings to communicate with each other in the present and also it will learn from past experiences to teach the future. If there is no communication between people, if every person is entirely isolated like a tree in a forest, then clearly there is no civilisation and there is no society.”
“With the best possible communication, with the best possible ability to learn from our experiences, we have a chance of not simply doing the dumb thing. We have a chance of being more civilised to each other, we have a chance of avoiding pitfalls that have been discovered in the past.”
He also explains that our media is now so controlled by incumbent interests, that it marginalises critique, or those who want to see a transformation in society, such as towards a more sustainable one:
“Now the [corporate] media insofar as it is successful and is profitable and widely distributed, as an industrial body is inherently corrupt. And to understand where the corruption comes from, first of all see that an industrial body, an organisation that becomes powerful in influencing others, is able to manufacture consent and suppress dissent. As a result, the people who work within it, and those proprietors who own it, are invited to sit down at the table of power and are given certain concessions in their life and their business practices. They thereby become part of the very establishment that they are meant to be policing.”
The internet provides us with an opportunity to communicate and better understand our common predicaments, but not one that isnt being counter-acted by the amount of content produced by mainstream media:
“it is clear that most of the mainstream media outlets in Sweden are able to publish a truthful article on even perhaps the most controversial issues. But what they cannot do is show any sign of an institutional agenda to do so. They cannot publish in volume on those issues. Of course, when we are dealing with politics, we are dealing with perceptions en masse. And perceptions en masse are affected by communications en masse. It is not enough to simply reveal the truth in one isolated article or one isolated tweet; what is important is to have the truth revealed en masse, where people can see it en masse and where opinions can be affected en masse.”
The answer, Assange says, is therefore for all of us, in our personal and professional lives, to become engaged in developing and scaling up alternative media. Many people working on sustainability are working towards a better future, and can sometimes forget that may be taking for granted existing hard one freedoms and situations. Assange reminded participants at the conference of the situation facing many people today:
“We face a choice of whether we can have something not just for our grandchildren but even something for ourselves,” he noted. “We are rapidly approaching continuous war, in fact most of the Western countries have now been involved in war over 10 years and are being
increasingly involved. We see a tremendous increase in the size of intelligence agencies; the border between police and military is starting to collapse, with the weaponisation of police; increasing amount of body armour that police have. Across the world we see a collapse in the rule of law, politicised and arbitrary justice, with U.S. assassination lists approved by the President in secret with no due process; the continued detention without charge of children in Guantanamo Bay for over 10 years with no prospect of release.Mass surveillance being introduced into every country with no effective oversight by the population. The linking up of international companies and networks of influential people of the banking people, all these people lifting up the democratic and electoral control of their respective population bases.”
In the past decades “sustainability” has become a profession, with people working in business, government and civil society on various aspects of the agenda. It is useful therefore, to be reminded of the insights of those who are activists, people who take personal risks and do not have to worry about their employer or client.
“We face a serious global crisis, so we must understand that this is not a choice about doing the right thing, this is not a choice about whether we
appear to be moral, this is not a choice about whether we make friends, or are approved as an effective member of society. We face a choice of whether we will have a civilisation that is civil or not.”
So what should sustainability folk do?
“first of all we must understand the problem, we must understand the severity of the problem, we must tell the others the severity of the problem, we must explain that it is not a choice, that is not something we could get out of, that there is a very real chance of a global technological and political dystopia appearing…”
Thats an useful reminder of speaking it as you see it, rather than worrying about how to frame your message in a positive tone that will help sell some products or votes.
“Then we must link together with people with a similar understanding, we must invent new technological means to fight fire with our own form of fire, we must have absolute unity and determination in the response. If we look back at the previous resistance struggles, similar phenomenon that occurred in the past, that is what has held the day in the end. Unity, determination, understanding and creativity, looking for every possible venue where the forces of darkness can be held back, that is the only way that we are all going to survive that ongoing threat that is against everyone.”
So what has Wikileaks got to do with sustainability?
In a field in Sweden, I learned that we should, sometimes, ditch our silos, labels, and professional affiliations in order to get a better sense of the interconnected causes of the various problems we face. If sustainable development is to be a true integration of social, enviornmental and economic priorities, then we need to lose the blinkers that our desire for an easy life have given us.
You can hear the speech or visit the organisers of FuturePerfect to see more about this great festival project. Im proud to have been associated with the organising of it, and look forward to more conversations and celebrations of how to be fully awake, connected and hopeful in our work at these critical times.
Posted by jembendell on August 31, 2012
Just over five years ago I began working on the luxury industry. I thought, why cant these elite brands not excel in social and environmental performance? I researched, wrote and produced the report Deeper Luxury for WWF-UK, and it triggered a bit of a furore in the fashion press and wider luxury industry (about 8000 sites now link to the report). 5 years on, I’ve helped some luxury companies with their social and environmental impacts. But I havent seen much change. Some large firms like PPR have embraced the agenda, although we wait in anticipation for more results, in terms of positive social and environmental outcomes. In the 5 years, what inspired me the most were the entrepreneurs I met. People who were creating businesses to address social and environmental problems, and targetting the luxury segment as a way to do that. I began to realise something might be in this – that these entrepreneurs might be shaping the future of luxury, and that they might be revealing a new way we can engage in social change. In the new study, I profile sustainable luxury firms Elvis and Kresse, Tesla Motors, Shokay, Source4Style, Rags2Riches, Positive Luxury, Timothy Han and Nue Luxe… It’s called “Elegant Disruption: How luxury and society can shape each-other for good”. It took about a year to write, as it involved a lot of conversations to understand just what the potential of luxury might be to influence social change. Ill be presenting it at conferences in Brisbane and Barcelona in the coming weeks.
Abstract, August 2012.
This paper outlines the contemporary luxury sector, showing it is global, thriving and influential. It shows how creative destruction is typical in most industry sectors, including luxury, and how disruptive innovation by entrepreneurs is key to that process. It proposes that the current time is potentially disruptive for incumbent luxury brands and groups, due to five key trends that are beginning to re-frame the markets that luxury brands sell to. Sustainable luxury entrepreneurs from USA, UK, Philippines, India, Argentina, China and Hong Kong are profiled and described as pursuing “elegant disruption”: a well-designed intervention in markets that both uses and affects aspirations in ways that change patterns of consumption, production or exchange, for a positive societal outcome. The paper reviews the response of mainstream luxury brands to the sustainability agenda, proposing some possible reasons why they appear to be encumbered in embracing this agenda fully. Some of the paradoxes in the notion of “sustainable luxury” are described, in order to draw implications for both the luxury industry and people interested in positive social change. The paper draws upon the authors five years of interaction with the luxury industry on sustainability issues, and is therefore written as a “first person inquiry” and draws upon principles of “appreciative inquiry” in documenting the breakthrough approaches of some sustainable luxury entrepreneurs.