“The Emerging Fourth Sector
The Three Traditional Sectors
Businesses create and distribute goods and services that enhance our quality of life, promote growth, and generate prosperity. They spur innovation, reward entrepreneurial effort, provide a return on investment and constantly improve their performance responding to market feedbacks. They draw on the skills, effort and ingenuity of individual workers, and share with them the economic value created by the enterprise.
Non-profit organizations give us ways to celebrate, build and protect the many human values that give rise to healthy, thriving communities. They have worked to ensure that all people have adequate necessities of life, including clean air, water, food and shelter; an equitable share of wealth and resources; and opportunity to develop their full physical, mental and spiritual potential. They create spaces to celebrate the joy of culture and artistic expression, and reveal opportunities for generosity. They have helped protect the environment, working to ensure that human capacities, technologies and organizations sustain and support, not systemically alter, degrade or destroy, the Earth, its diversity of life or the ecological systems that support life. They remind us that many species share this planet and depend on each other, and that humanity must not only care for itself, but must steward an entire world.
Governmental organizations protect and expand the principles of democratic freedom for both individuals and communities, protecting the public interest while at the same time ensuring a level playing field of opportunity and a common framework of laws and their enforcement at a scale that matches the scale of human activity. They have been granted, or they have presumed, the responsibility to provide for the common security and to make decisions to promote the best interest of society.
The Blurring of Sectoral Boundaries
Over the past few decades, the boundaries between the public (government), private (business), and social (non-profit) sectors have been blurring as many pioneering organizations have been blending social and environmental aims with business approaches.
There are many expressions of this trend, including corporate social responsibility, microfinance, venture philanthropy, sustainable businesses, social enterprise, privatization, community development and others. As this activity matures, it is becoming formalized as a ‘Fourth Sector’ of the economy. To better understand the emergence of the Fourth Sector, it is helpful to study recent shifts in organizational behavior across the three traditional sectors.”
AN : this is a great , brief overview and introduction to the ” fourth sector ” concept.