Our knowledge program is the backbone of our Centre of Expertise. In it, we have defined the subjects we conduct research on, how we conduct that research and how we use it to contribute to education, professional practice and relevant social transitions. The starting point of our knowledge program is Avans’ Ambition 2025, in which the university has identified four research focal points. For our Center of Expertise, that focus is -as our name suggests- Broad Prosperity and New Entrepreneurship.
Knowledge programme in outline
The central question of our knowledge program is “Can we organize the existing economic system and entrepreneurship in such a way that together they contribute to the transition to a more equitable distribution of prosperity and well-being of all life on earth, and ensure that the earth can provide for the needs of people, plants and animals for many generations to come?”. We made an important choice in formulating this research question, namely to combine two concepts: “broad welfare,” and “new entrepreneurship. We do this because we believe that the transition to broad prosperity can only be made if we also start doing business in a different way. Therefore, we want to examine these two topics in conjunction with each other. In this way we can gain insight into the entrepreneurial capacity of all the different parties in the economy and at the same time zoom in on new forms of economy, entrepreneurship and enterprises.
Two program lines
To find the answer to our central research question, our knowledge program follows those same two lines of Broad Prosperity and New Entrepreneurship. Along these two lines, we investigate from one side what mechanisms sustain the current economic system, and from the other how they can be broken. We specifically investigate 1) system change and tipping points; 2) awareness and behavioral change; 3) value creation and pricing; and 4) how these three aspects affect each other. Both for people and organizations (micro), and within sectors and institutions (meso) and at the level of the total system (macro).
Practice-oriented and co-creative
Our research is practice-oriented. This means that our research aims to solve issues from everyday practice. We conduct research to do the existing better, make the transition to the new and explore what that new can be. Through our knowledge program, we broaden individual research findings into knowledge that can be shared and passed on, and into proposals for economic, social and environmental changes that contribute to achieving broad prosperity. As researchers, we are also ourselves part of the economic system we are researching. This means that we must also critically examine our own way of doing research. On the one hand, we examine how the economy and business work now and can be improved, and on the other hand, we examine how business and the economy could work. In both sets of questions, the perspective of what then constitutes improvement or innovation is always influenced by ethical and cultural considerations. This is why we conduct our research co-creatively and democratically: together with our partners.
Wellbeing Economy program line
There are many different definitions of the concepts of prosperity, welfare and well-being in the economic context. We use the definition of Nobel laureate and economist Amartya Sen for our research in the Wellbeing economy program line: In a socially and ecologically just society, “everyone has the freedom to choose what well-being is for them and the opportunities to realize it for themselves.” We do this because we put freedom of action, enterprise and entrepreneurship at the center of our research. Entrepreneurship in all its forms and manifestations plays an important role in being able to engage in activities that contribute to the broad welfare of society.
The first goal of the Broad Prosperity program line is to investigate what interpretations of the concept of “broad prosperity” are held by different stakeholders, and how those interpretations can be linked to possible alternative economies. The second goal is to examine existing and emerging economic systems (which do not necessarily lead to a wellbeing economy) and explore alternatives that do strive for a wellbeing
New entrepreneurship program line
The common thread in the New Entrepreneurship program line is our belief in the power of entrepreneurship: enterprising people who use their knowledge and abilities to find solutions to the social challenges we face as a society. We very deliberately say “entrepreneurial people,” because as far as we are concerned, not only someone who runs a business on their own account can be an entrepreneur, but also someone who works for an organization or does not have a paid job. Anyone who has the motivation to take action in something is, as far as we are concerned, an entrepreneurial person.
In the New Entrepreneurship program line, the goal is to explore what direct players, stakeholders, activities, behaviors, systems and structures exist in and around an organization, and how they can be aligned with a common holistic vision of the wellbeing economy.