Inclusive business, human rights and the dignity of the poor: a glance beyond economic impacts of adapted business models



In recent years, a considerable amount of research on adapted business for developing countries focused on the impact such endeavours have on the respective companies as well as on the affected people. However, the main emphasis within management sciences was on the economic outcomes or (even more distinct and often) on the question of how to integrate the poor into business models and value chains. Until now, further aspects of a dignified human existence were merely covered as a side note. The article focuses on the influence of inclusive business approaches on various aspects of human dignity and provides explorative insights as a basis for future theory building. The aim is to uncover how human dignity is affected by different business approaches for the poor including and beyond economic outcomes. After giving an insight into the essence and meaning of human dignity in connection to various human rights, the articles refers to a number of illustrative cases of inclusive business. The analysis culminates in the insight that dignity can be (and sometimes already is) assured and promoted by deliberately including the poor into relevant value-added business processes. If this is the case, an enhanced dignity is not merely the result of increased incomes but stems from a variety of effects. However, such positive effects are not an inevitable outcome of any inclusive business initiative.