What is a truly Good economy?
This is the primary research question driving the formation of the Good Economy Lab.
To begin answering this question, we must first answer the question “What is Good?”
St Thomas Aquinas tells us goodness is that which perfects. As a voluntary association of human persons, an economy is Good if it perfects those persons - a Good economy provides for human flourishing.
What such an economy looks like in practice is an open question. Drawing on a rich intellectual tradition of reflection on these issues (Catholic Social Teaching, Virtue Ethics, and Natural Law), some initial insights arise.
Namely, a Good Economy is...
The vital things in life go beyond supply and demand. The ultimate end of a humane economy is not economic or technological efficiency, but each unrepeatable human person. People do not exist to be part of markets – rather, markets exist for the individuals and communities that build them. Markets become not an instrument but a process promoting human flourishing.
Individuals, families, businesses and communities flourish when they are free to find bottom-up solutions that are creative, tailored and local. This principle of decentralizing control and locating decision making at the level closest to those affected - what is called subsidiarity - is critical in a good economy.
Business professionals are called to exercise solidarity by expanding access to the market. Thus, a good economy is an inclusive economy - one that strives, as Pope Francis tells us, "to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all". Solidarity through inclusion empowers the poor, leveraging the power of free enterprise to create new pathways out of poverty.
A good economy is principled in that it is ordered towards the Common Good - the flourishing of all - at all levels. At the level of the individual we call these principles virtues. At the level of the business enterprise, corporate governance. At the societal-level, institutions (e.g., culture, norms and laws).
Entrepreneurship is the social act of discovering new ways to create value for others. A good economy is entrepreneurial - it encourages innovation and unleashes human creativity. It is an exercise in human freedom in which free enterprise becomes participation in co-creation with God.
What is the Good Economy Lab?
The Good Economy Lab is an interdisciplinary and inter-sector research collaboration incubating in the Busch School of Business's Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship at the Catholic University of America.
It's goal - through relevant, rigorous, high-impact research - is to unpack the insights highlighted above, and rediscover how market economies contribute to human flourishing.
is essential because the Good cannot be understood through economics alone.
The Lab connects accomplished scholars and aspiring student researchers from across the social sciences.
Moreover, our researchers and collaborators bring together expertise from not only the social sciences, but also theology, philosophy and the world of practice.
is critical because scholarship can only go so far.
Realizing the Good requires the cooperation of business, government and civil society.
Our goal is to connect faculty and student researchers with business professionals, faith leaders, and policy makers to produce rigorous and relevant scholarship that ultimately generates good real-world solutions.