Working paper

The impact economy: balancing profit and impact

The impact economy model is well-positioned to find an appropriate balance across all three pillars: economic, social and environmental.

Publishing date
07 July 2020

How can governments and companies be jointly empowered to have a positive impact on the sustainable development goals? The current economic system is largely geared towards increasing economic growth. But this could come at the expense of rising social inequality and environmental degradation.

This paper examines the link between economic system outcomes and corporate sustainability outcomes. We provide evidence that governments and companies can reinforce each other in their pursuit of sustainable development. Sustainable development is based on three pillars: economic, social and environmental. These pillars should be assessed and balanced in an integrated way. An impact economy, in which governments and companies balance profit and impact, is best placed to achieve the sustainable development goals.

Recommended citation:

Schoenmaker, D. (2020) ‘The impact economy: balancing profit and impact’, Working Paper 2020/04, Bruegel

About the authors

  • Dirk Schoenmaker

    Dirk Schoenmaker is a Non-Resident Fellow at Bruegel. He is also a Professor of Banking and Finance at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam and a Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Research (CEPR). He has published in the areas of sustainable finance, central banking, financial supervision and stability and European financial integration.

    Dirk is author of ‘Governance of International Banking: The Financial Trilemma’ (Oxford University Press) and co-author of the textbooks ‘Financial Markets and Institutions: A European perspective’ (Cambridge University Press) and ‘Principles of Sustainable Finance’ (Oxford University Press). He earned his PhD in economics at the London School of Economics.

    Before joining RSM, Dirk was Dean of the Duisenberg school of finance from 2009 to 2015. From 1998 to 2008, he served at the Netherlands Ministry of Finance. In the 1990s, he served at the Bank of England. He is a regular consultant for the IMF, the OECD and the European Commission.

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