This research seeks to measure and analyse the social and economic impact of selected Community Currencies in Europe with the use of a self-assessment Total Quality Management model called Common Assessment Framework. Complementary Currencies (CC) are a type of money designed to circulate alongside the Central Bank’s money to address objectives that the conventional money system does not. CC are tied to a specific demarcated community (i.e. locality, mutual-credit networks, sectoral vouchers). The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) engages the organisation and its beneficiaries and performs a study of its structure and operation at a particular point in time and place. The study will further organizational theory for sustainability and community building, contributing to the Europe 2020 strategy. It builds upon previous efforts funded by the European Union, namely Digipay4growth and CCIA, by studying the social and economic impact of these projects in order to further theorise CC from a systems and complexity theory perspective. The research will link micro-impact indicators at an organizational level, such as employment generation and access to financial services, with macro indicators at the national level, such as the enhanced GDP that includes well-being and life satisfaction, according to the Beyond GDP initiative of the European Commission. The research on CCs as an anti-crisis mechanism is topical at a time when the European Union member states and especially Greece are striving to cope with the financial crisis and its impact on national economies and societies. Several countries have experienced GDP declines and rising unemployment rates, while in Greece the indicators are even worse than during the Great Depression. In that line, the priorities of Europe 2020 include community currencies because of their effectiveness towards social innovation, new modes of sustainable economy, employment and enterprise creation, and local regeneration.
The overall research objectives are:
1: Assess the organizational capacity and performance of selected CC organisations via the evidence-based Common Assessment Framework.
2: Identify, describe and calculate social and financial impact indicators of the CC organisations. The triple bottom line approach of the CAF model will provide the CC organisations with a holistic view and a continuous improvement tool, included IRIS metrics (IRIS is the catalogue of generally-accepted performance indicators to measure the social and financial performance of their investments).
3: Linking impact indicators (research objective 2) with macro-level indicators, hence operationalising the Beyond GDP Initiative and developing good practice for similar organisations. Similarly to other social economy organisations and social enterprises, CCs require better indicators to move towards policy–making.
4: Develop and run simulations through agent-based models for the CCs under research, in order to identify emerging patterns and behaviours and contribute to their sustainability and impact at policy-making level.