Innovators in Rural Community Economic Development
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  • Thoughts about the WealthWorks Framework: Self-interest, shared interest, and common interest

Thoughts about the WealthWorks Framework: Self-interest, shared interest, and common interest

Every so often I find myself thinking about the WealthWorks framework in new or expanded ways. I share these thoughts with our readers and the WealthWorks community on the chance that they can add value to your work and to our shared understanding and ability to articulate the framework. I would welcome your feedback. I also invite you to share your own thinking.

Today I'm thinking about interests. We have talked a lot in this work about self-interest as a fundamental motivator. Self-interest means “what’s in it for me?” or “what do I get out of it?” Someone might contribute to a WealthWorks value chain simply because it satisfies their self-interest. For example, a training organization might be willing to offer a special session of a training it already has to meet the needs of value chain participants. It’s what they do and it’s in their self-interest to do more of it. It is becoming fairly clear that there are at least two other types of interest that matter in this work.

Shared interest happens when you and I would benefit from the same thing. For example, if you are a training organization and I am a coordinator, we might both benefit from a successful new offering that simultaneously expands the offerings of the training organization and increases its revenues while meeting a specific need of the value chain to increase individual capital. This would lead us to work together to make it happen.

The third level of interest is common interest. Common interest means caring about the greater good beyond self or shared interest. In this work, some partners (particularly coordinators) have a strong sense of common interest and others do not necessarily. Some may invest in the work because of a sense of common interest (e.g. regional prosperity), but others only if they see that it meets their self-interest or shared interest. We are still learning about how these multiple layers of interest play out. One hypothesis is that without some sense of common interest (caring about the greater good), WealthWorks value chains may not remain inclusive over time and wealth may not stick the way we want it to. So, while self-interest is key, it is not necessarily the only glue that binds and not the only kind of interest we should be thinking about.

 WealthWorks is a 21st-century approach to local and regional economic development that belongs in every community and economic development toolkit. For information about Yellow Wood's engagement with WealthWorks, see our WealthWorks and Wealth Creation pages and related resources.