Looking beyond economic gains, the collaborative economy can also be a vehicle for achieving triple bottom line impacts, and help address societal challenges. However, these non-financial benefits have received limited attention from policy makers, funders, and researchers to date. As India’s economy grows in size and influence, how can we ensure collaborative efforts have a positive impact for participants and society more generally? While for-profit companies of the collaborative economy have actively sought to demonstrate their impact and lobby for favourable conditions, comparatively little has been said about the specificities of socially driven initiatives and platforms.
Mobilizing issue ecosystems
Over the last two decades, the India has seen a number of societal issues not only persist but grow—lack of access to education and economic opportunity, adequate health care, a clean and safe environment, and sufficient food and nutrition, among others. There is increasing recognition that traditional approaches and business models for addressing intractable societal problems are proving ineffective. Solutions are no longer the responsibility of a single organization or sector. Instead, multi-stakeholder initiatives mobilizing “issue ecosystems” have driven solutions to complex societal challenges.
Governments, while historically capable of large scale solutions to basic societal challenges, are becoming less able to tackle complex and nuanced problems. Nonprofits and foundations have been able to surface an impressive array of innovative solutions, yet are finding it difficult to scale these solutions in a sustainable and timely way. Corporations—adept at rapidly scaling solutions—are now incorporating into their strategy collective action initiatives and the delivery of social good while on the path to profit.
In response to these shortfalls, many business sectors are adapting their strategies, operating models, processes, and behavioral norms to address complex societal challenges. Viable solutions require sustained commitment and cross sector collaboration to surface and scale innovations, as well as to codify and deploy “next” practices. Translating such visionary ideas into practice requires often unprecedented action, drawing on diverse domains of expertise, emerging evidence about “what works,” and progressive thinking in the social impact space.