Avoiding exploited communities - Business place-building builds sustainable communities

Globally, communities desire to develop economically but often make poor choices in attracting organizations that benefit the community rather than exploiting them. There is a cultural dimension that embraces place-building that becomes a critical component of establishing and sustaining a viable partnership that promotes ecological sustainability and human development for a community. It becomes crucial to understanding an organizations place-building “type” so that communities can match up with place-building organizations that are mutually beneficial. Community leaders that are able to determine organizational place-building type can advance the notion of organizations as place-building agents and enhance the strategic value of organizations to their communities.

Understanding how research on place-building acts on the business environment is crucial to understanding sustainable development in the future. Concepts that measure a businesses interdependent from independent involvement with a community and the broader view of ecological sustainability are needed to understand these connections, or lack thereof. Businesses can be transformative in that they are interdependent with community and environment (true triple bottom line) or exploitive in which they are independent of both community and environment serving only their own interests.

In order to empower communities and also to help businesses understand where they lie on a continuum of sustainability, a new instrument has been developed that measures an organization’s level of involvement with its community. This typology represents an analytic scheme for examining the community place-building characteristics of organizations, and helps identify the interdependence between communities and the organizations that can or do reside there.