Re-defining development

Some theoretical definitions informing upon possible paths to inclusive growth

How will the world economy develop in the future? Will the labour market be able to escape its identity crisis? If yes, how? And, above all, will it ever be an inclusive environment? In search for feasible answers, national research centers, universities and transnational organisations have been trying to provide new theoretical definitions, able to open new research paths towards more inclusive economic models. Words such as “development”, “growth” and “profit” have thus been redefined.

Here some of the most authoritative theoretical definitions, currently informing the international debate upon possible paths to inclusive growth.

African Development Bank (AfDB)
Inclusive Growth
Defined as ‘economic growth that results in a wider access to sustainable socioeconomic opportunities for the majority, while protecting the vulnerable, all being done in an environment of fairness, equality and political plurality. AfDB views agricultural development as a critical component of inclusive growth and, therefore, focuses on economic, social, and political inclusion.

Aspen Institute
Inclusive Economic Development
Acknowledging that there is no official definition, states the term as referring to all economic development planning and practice that is driven by values of equity, transparency, sustainability, and community engagement. In spirit, it embraces and cultivates local assets and ownership that empowers traditionally excluded communities. It includes practices such as alternative business ownership models, leveraging the purchasing power of large public and non-profit institutions to bolster communities, robust workforce development, and more equitable infrastructure development.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Inclusive Growth
Addresses discrimination of the most marginalized populations. In this definition, discrimination refers to groups that have been left behind in poverty reduction and economic development efforts and the goal is the help these groups participate in and benefit from economic activity.

Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Inclusive Innovation / Inclusive Economy
Takes a broad approach to inclusion that focuses on innovative business models and private sector approaches to improve equitable access to products and services. The Bertha Centre emphasizes innovations for education, healthcare, and financing, mostly in Africa.

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)
Inclusive Economy
An economy in which ‘all individuals and communities participate in, benefit from, and contribute to global and local economies.’ This definition positions inclusive economies as a process that creates benefits to all populations through three core pillars—good jobs, access to critical goods and services, and sustainable communities.

Ford Foundation
Inclusive Economies
Focuses on inequality and the problems that it creates for growth, highlighting the lack of job security and a safety net in wealthy economies and the lack of access to rights, jobs, technology, and markets in developing countries. Defines inclusive economies as those where ‘opportunities abound, standards of living increase for all, and prosperity is widely shared.

International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG)
Inclusive Growth
Emphasises participation in its definition. In addition to sharing the benefits of economic growth, individuals should actively participate in the wealth process and have a say in the process of growth.14 It is important to note that this definition specifically introduces and prioritises political inclusion, which many other definitions do not address.

Centre for American Progress (CAP)
Inclusive Prosperity
Focuses on the developed world and policy actions that can help the middle class achieve greater economic opportunities with ‘good jobs, decent salaries, and a sustainable future.’

Organization for Economic
Inclusive Growth
Focuses on income inequality and an end-state where the gap between the rich and the poor is less pronounced and growth is shared in a fairer way resulting in ‘improvements in living standards and outcomes that matter for people’s quality of life (e.g. good health, jobs and skills, clean environment, community support).’

The Rockefeller Foundation
Inclusive Economies
Emphasises the need to provide those at the bottom of the pyramid with greater opportunities to improve their own well being, not just by consuming products but also by becoming producers and thereby augmenting their livelihoods. ‘By removing barriers to opportunity – especially for those least able to improve their own well-being – The Rockefeller Foundation works to advance more inclusive economies with more broadly shared prosperity, prioritising this as one of its two overarching goals.’

Shared Value Initiative
Shared Value
Defined as ‘a management strategy focused on companies creating measurable business value by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their business. The shared value framework creates new opportunities for companies, civil society organisations, and governments to leverage the power of market-based competition in addressing social problems.’

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Inclusive Markets
Defined as ‘markets that extend choices and opportunities to the poor (and other excluded groups) as producers, consumers and wage earners’ by creating jobs and prioritising the affordability of goods and services needed by the poor.

World Bank
Inclusive Growth / Shared Prosperity
Inclusion is defined by the ‘pace and pattern of growth.’ Growth should be sufficient to include the largest part of the country’s labour force in the economy and to lift significant proportions of the population out of poverty.

Image: REUTERS/Carlos Jasso