Sustainable development can be defined as non-declining per capita wealth over time [1].

Our approach to flows & stocks is motivated by WGSSD's approach in which a society's total capital base is seen to comprise five individual stocks:

In all cases the motives to sustain a work system are related to its capability to create outcomes (value) for its owners and other stakeholders.

On the other hand, the system operations, repair and maintenance also give rise to costs and externalities.

[1] distinguishes policy-based indicators and capital-based indicators, and compares their origin and challenges.

Indicators aligned with socio-technical levels

In general, (business) actor perspective indicators could be grouped in accordance with their being concerned with internal or external aspects (value stocks and flows, and risks), or with operational performance (life as usual, maintenance and repair) or change performance/capability (innovation, learning).

Another grouping dimension is related to the socio-technical level of the indicator's owner. This owner's decision making can influence the stocks and flows that underlie or influence the indicator.

Taking into consideration the social architecture (Actor Atlas) and the claims on resources it implies, it seems appropriate to align indicator choice with socio-technical level as follows:

  • Macro: capital based indicators, stock and flow, especially natural and financial capital, human capital, social capital, produced capital: infrastructure
  • Meso: sector specific human, social and produced capital
  • Micro: indicators that are aligned with "competitive targets" and are reported about in annual reports
  • Pico: human well-being indicators.

Indicators for four Perspectives

At each socio-technical level (macro, meso, micro and pico) [2], indicators could be defined for external or internal capital flows and stocks, and for operational outcomes (life or business as usual) or change (innovation, learning).

The Balanced Scorecard was defined with a focus on organisations (micro).

It pioneered attention to indicators for each of the four perspectives.

These four perspectives can also be identified for the other socio-technical levels.

Perspective Generalized Dashboard Balanced Scorecard
External (P1) External Stakeholders, Collaborative Processes & Social capital Customer
Internal (P2) Internal Assets, Business Processes & Human capital Internal Business Processes
Change/Growth (P3) Sustainability, Competitiveness & Innovation Learning & Growth
Operational Outcomes (P4) Value Flows & Stock (money, material, information, knowledge) Financial

For each perspective, the generalization - from "balanced scorecard" to "generalized dashboard"- is briefly justified.

External / External Stakeholders, Collaborative Processes & Social capital

[P1]: The first generalization reflects the intensifying focus on core competences by most organizations and the resulting need for more intimate processes with external relations, customers, suppliers and allies. The collaborative and supply chain processes are in the external stakeholder perspective because stakeholders come and go with the interactions in which they participate.

Details: External Stakeholders, Collaborative Processes & Social capital and Interaction Dictionary, including Trade.

Below table (tentatively) lists External Stakeholders, Collaborative Processes & Social capital indicators from Indicators for the goals - #SDGs in accordance with the socio-technical level.

Socio-technical level Indicators
Pico 01.5 - Number of deaths, missing people, injured, relocated or evacuated due to disasters
Meso 01.3 - Percentage of the population covered by social protection floors/systems...
Macro 02.b - Percent change in Import and Export tariffs on agricultural products
02.c - Indicator of (food) Price Anomalies (IPA) ( CBB )

Internal / Internal Assets, Business Processes & Human capital

[P2]: The joint manifestation of asset (non-human actant or object) and the processes in which it contributes to value creation also justifies to bring internal assets in the same perspective as the (internal) business processes (second generalization).

Details: Internal Assets, Business Processes & Human capital and Interaction Dictionary, including Production.

[P1 & P2]: The first and second generalization avoid the silo problem, whether for a business process, a function or a product group [3].

Socio-technical level Indicators
Macro 01.a - Percentage of resources allocated by the government directly to poverty reduction programmes
01.1 - Proportion of population below international poverty line disaggregated by sex and age group and employment status

Change/Growth / Sustainability, Competitiveness & Innovation

[P3]: Where growth and learning have a strong inner focus, the terms sustainability, competitiveness and innovation broaden the perspective to the eco-system in which the participants or actors are mutually dependent for their sustained well-being.

Details: Sustainability, Competitiveness & Innovation and the Change realm which may benefit from a strong monitoring and evaluation capability to launch radical change and innovation.

Socio-technical level Indicators
Meso 02.4 - Percentage of agricultural area under sustainable agricultural practices.
02.5 - Ex Situ Crop Collections Enrichment index
Macro 01.b - Number of national action plans related to multi-lateral environmental agreements
02.a - The Agriculture Orientation Index (AOI) for Government Expenditures

Operational Outcomes / Value Flows & Stock (money, material, information, knowledge)

[P4]: The fourth generalization builds upon work on the sustainable livelihoods framework [4] which was applied to examine sustainability in fisheries management [5]. The assets include natural, financial, physical capital (P2) human (P2), social (P1). The upcoming trends of corporate social and environmental responsibility indicate the future potential of the generalized scorecard perspectives.

Details: GD-flow-stock and the Operations realm which will also benefit from a strong monitoring and evaluation capability for incremental improvement.

Socio-technical level Indicators
Pico 01.1 - Proportion of population below international poverty line disaggregated by sex and age group and employment status
01.2 - Proportion of population living below national poverty line
01.3.2 - Average social protection transfers as % of income / or poverty line ( BBB )
01.4 - Proportion of the population living in households with access to basic services
02.1 - Prevalence of undernourishment
02.2 - Prevalence of population with moderate or severe food insecurity, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)
Micro 02.3 - Volume of production per labour unit (measured in constant USD), by classes of farming/pastoral/ forestry enterprise size

Partnerships with a Dashboard per Actor

Actor-network theory (ANT) is a methodology that highlights the networks giving rise to, and sustaining various forms of knowledge [6]. The networks consist of inter-connectivities between human and non-human actants such as documents and devices. Participants' knowledge emerges in complex and situationally specific interactions, and cycles of construction and reconstruction combining human and non-human elements. ANT is an approach to structure and explain the links between society and technology. It offers explanations of how technology becomes acceptable and is adopted by groups in society. It suggests how technology is socially constructed. The primary focus is on stakeholders (actors or actants) and how they are involved in the shaping of technology. The theory emphasises the co-constitutive relationships between knowledges and the network of actants involved in their creation [7].

The generalized dashboard can be completed for the economic, social and environmental behaviour of any actant, in particular organizational actants and human actants, or their roles with respect to interactions. Within an organization, this is a structure or network of organizational units, a dashboard can be defined and completed for each unit or team.

The generalized dashboard tracks the “stock” and the “flow” of goods and services that people, businesses and agencies can use to help them meet objectives and achieve their aspirations.

Further reading:

Commonalities and Exchanges

The nesting of the operations will imply that stocks and flows that are external for one actor (e.g. micro or pico), may be internal for another one (for example macro and meso).

All types of capital share two fundamental distinguishing characteristics: each capital investment entails an opportunity cost (savings or consumption foregone) and each can be used by people to help them increase their well-being. The flow characteristics, how it is engaged in interactions among the economic agents, of the capital assets vary strongly. Financial Capital for instance represents obligations, and is liquidated as money for trade, and owned by legal entities. Financial capital is of special interest because it is generated by the production process itself, can be re-invested in any other type of capital and is highly mobile. The stock of financial capital can be viewed as the level of wealth a society possesses and the flow as the amount that it has available for other investments on an ongoing basis[5].

1. Joint UNECE/OECD/Eurostat Working Group on Statistics for Sustainable Development (WGSSD), 2009, Measuring sustainable development. Tech. rep., UNECE Statistical Division.
3. For some more details, see Kaplan. R.S., D. P. Norton (2006) How to Implement a New Strategy Without Disrupting Your Organization. Harvard Business Review, March 2006.
4. Scoones, I. (1998) Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: A Framework for Analysis. IDS Working Paper No.72 . 1998. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.
5. Rudd, M. A. (2004) An institutional framework for designing and monitoring ecosystem-based fisheries management policy experiments. Ecological Economics, 48, 109-124
6. Latour, B. (1987) Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA.
7. McNamara, C., J. Baxter, Wai Fong Chua (2004) Making and Managing organisational knowledge(s), Management Accounting Research 15, pp 53-76