Community Economy

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By Lorenza Victoria Salati and Giulio Focardi:

"Community Economy is a theoretical framework within which it is possible to develop effective economic solutions to support the development and transformation of these entities, companies, associations and NGOs. Community Economy in its wider sense is based on the idea that any economic fact is the direct consequence of choices made by individuals, as members of community. We challenge the idea of the invisible hand of the market; the market is made up of people with needs, people who are part of communities and who, within these communities, perceive their own needs.Organisations and companies are also constituted by people who live most of their conscious time at the workplace and interact with their colleagues, and are themselves a community. Community Economy means identifying and highlighting the existence of these communities, defining their boundaries, determining their characteristic traits, understanding how they can interact and structuring a series of actions that can foster certain interactions rather than others. The traditional pyramid-shaped organisational model of companies is obsolete, inefficient, and ineffective. The management structure based on the idea of a command chain in which lower levels of the company have lower importance, autonomy an lower decision-making capacity is now obsolete as it fails to respond to the need for flexibility which is characteristic of con-temporary markets, that means being able to address every day a new need. The lack of flexibility of this structure slows down innovation in the company and creates a distorting effect on internal communication. Of course, it also has advantages, ranging from the control of processes to the management of the working environment, to the optimisation of the lead time. However, these advantages are only relevant in the presence of well-established businesses where the top management really have full control over all aspects ranging from production to the market, while for small or medium companies that have to respond to the needs of different customers every day, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Of course, for associations, NGOs and also for small businesses, these advantages are not perceptible. An association is not a company, even if it provides services to users and has an important economic dimension.Just think that for a non-profit, in the vast majority of cases, users will never turn into customers.Community Economy helps organisations to grow and trans-form by focusing on the heart of the organisation, which is the community made up of employees, partners and collaborators. The solution is to create horizontal structures in which decision levels and responsibilities are distributed among functional cells belonging to decision clusters.If there are issues or if there is a change in progress, it is essential to avoid acting on the dynamics, and focus on the nodes of the structure instead. For example, if there is a change in progress, it is perfectly useless to define in detail all the individual tasks that must be executed, but it is instead of fundamental importance to identify within the community those who want to take responsibility for leading specific areas of change and to outline their motivation and skills to do so in order to build a group commitment to that specific area of change. The main question that growing organisations have to answer cannot be where are we going, what we have to do and how to do it, but rather it should be, what are we becoming, who wants to be part of this change and whether we have the necessary skill." (


* Article: The rise of community economy : from coworking spaces to the multifactory model. By Lorenza Victoria Salati, Giulio Focardi. - Sarajevo : Udruženje Akcija, 2018.


"We want to understand and to show this new idea of workplaces: local, fast, easy, versatile, sustainable under a social and environmental point of view. ... The result of this research is the Multifactory Model, a model of intervention designed to be a guide for all those who want to create, from scratch, a shared workspace based on concepts of collaboration, mutual aid, social innovation, sustainability, and the free flow of knowledge"

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