Ownership Design For A Sustainable Economy

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Above Photo: From Fiftybyfifty.org

Research finds mission-driven employee-owned firms best environmental stewards

What is the relationship between employee ownership and sustainable business practices? Our research, conducted with support from Partners for a New Economy, suggests the answer to this question is far from simple. While traditional public ownership almost certainly will put profits before planet, employee ownership doesn’t guarantee a firm will prioritize environmental impact.

Rather, we found the business design that is most suitable to solving our planetary crisis combines employee ownership with moral leadership that values sustainability. Most often that moral leadership comes from founders and/or the executives who strive to make the company’s values a reality. Where employee ownership makes a real difference is when mission-driven companies transition to new leadership. Employee owners, steeped in company culture, are the ones most likely to continue to steward that mission.

“Ownership design for a sustainable economy” is our final report, summarizing the research methodology and findings related to our inquiry into this question. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, we uncovered 50-plus employee-owned, mission-driven firms that provide a model for business in the 21st century. These businesses demonstrate design lessons that will need to be adopted far more broadly if we are to solve the two greatest threats to our planet and our democracy: growing inequality and the climate crisis.

  • voza0db

    Here we go again…

    It’s really not funny to read these types of delusions, day after day.

    WE – the WHOLE ~8 billion uman animals – are not capable of generating anything SUSTAINABLE.

    The simple FACT that we have ~8 billion animals destroying and polluting the Ecosystems should be reason enough for these delude folks to stop writing such nonsense.

    We would might have a small window of Natural opportunity! We called it “Coronavirus”! It seems it is very effective at getting rid of old/obsolete uman animals. So if the little piece of natural CODE – learn some coding! – is successful we might have a chance to change.

    Of course that for me even if this were to happen we wouldn’t learn anything from it and no change would occur!

  • This is an immensely important discussion to be having. Here is a link to the full pdf for this brief summary:


    Whether or not we will be able to create sustainable models of human activity are highly debatable today, especially within the context of the global monetary market culture. There have been all too few glimmers of light and hope, especially within economic contexts. The research of Elinor Ostrom on the “tragedy of the commons” and related ownership models is a valuable beginning.

    The discussion in this pdf helps to highlight some of the more complex issues beyond simple cooperatively own business models. In my opinion, perhaps the more significant contributions that Professor Ostrom was able to add to this discussion was the idea of ‘stakeholders’. It is becoming increasingly obvious to more people everyday that we, along with all planetary life, are all ‘stakeholders’ in the living ecosystems we call Earth. How we inform, democratize and empower those stakeholder relationships towards sustainable commonwealth management is a central question facing humanity. ‘Ownership’ models are very blunt economic tools when it comes to making the kind of necessary adjustments to human relationships that we need to make to arrive at a sustainable global human culture. It is human culture that defines our relationships. The ‘business’ culture of today is a suicide pact. ‘Ownership’, ‘Money’ and ‘Competitive Market’ are a few of the most problematic deeply conditioned cultural memes.

    No one has all the answers simply because we have a multitude of living ‘stakeholders’. Yet some new cultural memes, like the idea of ‘stakeholders’, are gradually beginning to emerge. Fortunately, ‘gradual’ in terms of cultural evolution can happen extremely rapidly especially when natural forces, like rising oceans, are driving those changes. Our evolutionary success as a species depends upon it.

  • Not helpful.

  • voza0db

    What doesn’t help?

  • Werner Rhein

    The solution has to be to get away from fossil fuels and produce the energy for the enterprise by way of renewable energy. There is a few ways to choose from.
    Energy is in most cases a high expenditure point.
    If that can be reduced, and it can, to a short payback time and then make energy free.

    That alone can make company profitable.