Finance Ethics with a Massive Open Online Course
6th edition (2016/2017)
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Financial services are essential to the growth of economic activity in both developed and developing economies. However, multiple economic, social and environmental crises have recently called the functions of financial services into question in the public mind (Melé et al., 2017) and financial intermediaries are sometimes considered greedy and untrustworthy (Carucci, 2017). To promote ethics in finance, a number of citizens and practitioners have started to redirect funds into activities that aim to generate social and environmental benefits (Nicholls & Pharoah, 2008). In this article, we investigate how the growing sector of social finance can promote ethics and trust in finance. To this end, we explore whether social finance can be considered as a common good and promote personal and collective wealth.
The concept of the commons is increasingly debated in the academic literature examining social finance (Hudon & Meyer, 2016; Meyer & Hudon, 2017; Paranque, 2016; Périlleux & Nyssens, 2017; Servet, 2013, 2015). The commons refers to collective ways of organizing economic activities according to shared values and ethical principles (Bollier & Helfrich, 2014). This concept is closely tied to the notion of the common good, and these two words share the same etymological roots in the Latin word communis, meaning “common” and “which belongs to several or all”. The concept of ‘commons’ can shed new light on finance in that it understands financial organizations as communities of people who share similar beliefs and purposes.