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3.6 Enterprises and New Forms of Partnership


movement that was built around the topic of free software has been able to generate products and services sophisticated enough to compete with the great monopolists of the sector. We are interested in how this event started and then evolved. The same reasons that have brought thousands of people to work on a collaborative project of free software, the same organisational forms that allowed them to realise it, have been applied in other fields, and created, for example, new forms of distributed knowledge (the best-known example is Wikipedia, an encyclopaedia written voluntarily by thousands of authors and in a few years has become the largest encyclopaedia in the world). Or, what is even more interesting, unseen forms of organisation and socialisation have been created (as in the cases of MeetUp, SmartMobs or the BBC Action Network: platforms with common feature to gather together individuals concerned about the same topic, to collect the critical mass required to do something, and act accordingly. Let it be sharing a bus for a trip, organising a party or putting together teams of volunteers to clean a forest or a beach).

3.6 Enterprises and New Forms of Partnership Out of all the social participants within the production窶田onsumption system, companies hold most of the resources in terms of knowledge, organisation and capacity for initiative. They therefore play a central role in the promotion of sustainable processes. But first, such a possibility has to be compared with the economic efficiency and competitiveness. Which is no easy task. Until now the encounter between companies and environmental issues has been on the following terms: how can a company remain competitive despite the new ecological constraints? This is, of course, a very legitimate question, but the way in which it portrays the issue is intrinsically weak: the orientation towards sustainability is proposed as a problem to be treated alongside other problems that very often are perceived by the businesses as being much more urgent and pressing. In recent times, however, another, more interesting way has evolved: how can sustainable processes make the company more competitive? This means that competitiveness can become the mobilising factor. The best design and entrepreneurial resources in the search for sustainable solutions?

3.6.1 Producing Value by Reducing Consumption As said at the beginning of this chapter, the transition towards sustainability is a learning process that will teach us how to live better, consume (a lot) less and how to recreate the physical and social ambient we live in. This phrase may also be remade specifically for companies. Then it becomes:

Design for Environmental Sustainability  

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