Civic Business

Civic Business Identity Statement:

Civic Business builds the capacity of business institutions to develop active citizen leaders within their organizations. Civic Business does this in partnership with other demonstrations of the Midwest Active Citizenship Initiative to renew and sustain democracy and to create a world that is abundant and just.

Civic Business is a demonstration of the Midwest Active Citizenship Initiative.

Civic: The work of citizens. “Civic” is a qualifier that indicates that our work is framed in the tension between democratic principles and develops the capacity of the populous to govern for the good of the whole within that tension.

Govern: To rule over by right of authority; to exercise a directing or restraining influence over; to guide; to define problems, contribute to solutions and act as a policy

Policy: Principled course of action. Policies provide a compass for governance; they are the result of taking bearing and setting direction. They provide the basis for rewards and sanctions. Policies require continual evaluation and feedback. Individuals and institutions have policies.

Agenda: Plan for action. “We believe in this principled course of action (policy) and therefore we will do x, y and z (agenda).”

Every individual has the capacity to know what is good, to grow in that knowledge, to govern for the common good and to be a co-producer of justice in the world. In a democracy, citizenship is the role individuals have to carry out this capacity.


Business is a service delivery model grounded in the principles of meeting needs, expertise, creativity, quality, excellence, timeliness, customer service, and consumption.

Need is driven by service principles and is separated from the principles of democracy, the need for justice, or the obligation to govern for the common good.

Power is hierarchical leaving the majority without any governing obligation. Management systems reflect this conception of governance. Expertise is focused on immediate problem-solving vs. organizing governing capacity. Leadership development focusses on technical skills.

The result is though business principles are compatible with democracy, business systems foster narrow self-interest, immediate gratification, and the capacity to consume. These outcomes do not produce sustainable businesses or a sustainable democracy.

Business has a scale of impact that makes it especially important to develop and institute a sustainable inter-generational way for companies to develop civic identity, language and practice needed to sustain their company while contributing to the common good.

Therefore, we propose these policies:

Business leaders need to develop a system of governance grounded in the compatibility between business and civic principles with the capacity to work across lines of difference to achieve goals that benefit the common good.

This will require an investment in civic leadership development for business institutions.


Common Good: Found in the tension between what is good for the parts and what is good for the whole. The common good is found by organizing people with diverse interests to the common obligation of active citizenship and negotiating to find mutually acceptable agreements that advance the common good.

Justice: Root word: Jus meaning right. The right relationship or what is true given a moral imperative. In a democracy justice is defined against ideals (ideas) and conditions that apply to all-the common good. Justice is a public and political concept because it is the justification for laws, canons, rules that determine rewards and sanctions and the production and distribution of societies resources. In a democracy, justice is pursued never finally found because it is “a system of governance” defined in the tension between different perspectives and political interests as it relates to democratic principles meant to apply to the whole society, and ever-changing circumstances.

Self-interest: Literally means “self among others.” Derived from the social connections and influences that form identity. All human beings have self-interest. It is understood to be the basis for action or non-action.  Civic Organizing grows enlightened self-interest by linking self to transcendent civic principles.