E3 Network’s Future Economy Initiative Framework

Future Economy Framework
Eban Goodstein, Robin Hahnel, Thomas Power, Juliet Schor
Contact Person: Dr. Kristen Sheeran
Phone: 503-467-0811
Email: ksheeran@ecotrust.org

Download a PDF of the Future Economy Initiative Framework – Summary

Download a PDF of the Future Economy Initiative Framework – Annotated

E3 Network – Future Economies Initiative

Analytical Framework for Future Economy Innovations

Part One: Innovation  

  1. Please identify and describe the main features of the innovation as precisely as possible.

  2. Provide a brief history of the origins and evolution of the innovation.

  3. How does this innovation differ from other efforts designed to address similar needs and challenges?

  4. How does the innovation address multiple values and priorities?

  5. What challenge or need does the innovation respond to?

  6. Does the innovation involve a formal structure? If so, what is it? If not, what kind of informal structure gives it coherence?

  7. Does this innovation contribute to building, preserving or renewing specific economic or social institutions? If so, which ones, and how? (Examples: common land ownership, cooperative enterprise management, public-private partnerships, collaborative intellectual property, etc.)

Part Two: Evaluation  

  1. Livelihoods and Opportunities

    1. Needs: Does the innovation meet the specific needs or challenges it was designed to address? If so, how?

    2. Work and Employment: Does the innovation create opportunities for work and if so, how many? Does it employ under-represented or disadvantaged groups?

    3. Income and Livelihood: Does the innovation create jobs that provide livable wages and decent benefits? Does the innovation provide non-wage income or other forms of access to goods and services, including non-monetary?

    4. Opportunities: Do the opportunities created by the innovation improve access to other important livelihood assets such as artistic expression, alternative lifestyle choices, tools, land or garden space, art materials, or communications media?

    5. Public Sector Impact: What is the impact of this innovation on the public sector, from municipalities to national governments? What is the role of the public sector in developing and supporting this innovation?

  2. Empowerment and Social Relations: Identify and quantify impacts on the following:

    1. Participation: Does the innovation increase the participation of employees or constituents in decision making over outcomes important to their well-being?

    2. Accountability: Does the innovation reduce hierarchies and/or increase the accountability of decision makers or managers?

    3. Cooperation: Does it promote cooperation, sharing or joint ownership of resources?

    4. Civic Engagement: Does it promote civic engagement /public participation?

    5. Behavioral Change and Social Norms: Does the innovation change social norms in the community in any way? Does it encourage other-regarding or self-regarding behaviors? If so, how does it do this?

  3. Equity: Identify and quantify impacts on the following:

    1. Income: Does the innovation reduce income inequality in a given region or area?

    2. Assets: Does the innovation reduce asset inequality in a given region or area?

    3. Benefits: Does it provide broadly shared benefits or does it disproportionately benefit certain groups in society?

    4. Access: Does it increase access to basic social goods such as health care and education?

    5. Security: Does it increase the economic security of vulnerable groups?

  4. Environment: Identify and quantify impacts on the following:

    1. Pollution: Does the innovation reduce pollution, toxics, or carbon emissions?

    2. Habitat and Ecosystem Services: Does the innovation protect/restore habitat and core ecosystem functions?

    3. Environmental Justice: Does it increase disadvantaged people’s access to environmental goods and services? Does it decrease their exposure to environmental harms?

    4. Sustainability: Is the innovation ecologically sustainable?

  5. Resilience

    1. Adaptive Capacity. Does the innovation create capacities to anticipate and prepare for environmental change, particularly climate change?

    2. Diversity. Does the innovation support or foster the diversification of local or regional economies?

    3. Decentralization/ Modularity. Does the innovation promote economic decentralization?

Part Three: Contributing Factors

  1. What is the nature of the organizational environment within which this innovation is embedded? (Examples: industry clusters, partnerships, supply chains, financing structures.)

  2. On what other organizations does it rely for financial or physical resources, expertise, or labor? (Examples: other firms/orgs, foundations, banks, consultants, universities, labor unions, community organizations, the Internet.)

  3. Were certain legal or regulatory pre-conditions necessary for this innovation to emerge? Are there legal or regulatory barriers that constrain or impede the innovation’s emergence and success? Please describe.

  4. How does interaction with its social environment (e.g. families, communities, religious organizations, neighborhood associations, voluntary associations) affect its resilience and replicability?

  5. How does interaction with its political environment (e.g. elected officials, government agencies, or political parties) affect its resilience and replicability?

  6. What role do material incentives, social sanctions, and reciprocity motives play in establishing, maintaining or transforming the innovation?

  7. Is the innovation scalable? Are there economies or diseconomies of scale? Or can it work across a variety of scales – neighborhood, municipality, region, nation or beyond? Please elaborate.

  8. Might this innovation be replicated in other social, political, or economic contexts? If so, in which other contexts would it be appropriate? If not, why not?

  9. Does the innovation catalyze additional economic development or further economic innovations? Does it owe its emergence to other, catalytic innovations? Please elaborate.

  10. Does the innovation displace or supplant any institutions from an earlier period in economic life (or BAU)? If so, which ones and how?

  11. Does the emergence and success of this innovation entail any unintended consequences, desirable or otherwise, for communities, the environment, or local and regional economies? If so, please elaborate.

  12. What are the major vulnerabilities of this innovation? How might those vulnerabilities be addressed?

Appendix: Multiple Capitals

Researchers, if they choose, may use the capitals framework to structure their discussion of future economy innovations:

  1. Natural Capital

  2. Social Capital

  3. Human Capital

  4. Financial Capital

  5. Built Capital

  6. Cultural Capital