The Architecture of Enterprise: Redesigning Ownership for a Great Transition

Marjorie Kelly
2013 Good Society Journal, The  
The dominant institutional designs of modernity have relied upon an uneasy balance, built around a structural compromise. The institutions of government are seen as serving the public good, while the institutions of the economy-most prominently corporations and capital markets-are seen as serving the private good. The definition of private good, moreover, has been captured by a financial elite, which has managed to equate it with serving their interests. Today this social order is reaching its
more » ... iable limits. In the multiplying crises we face, ecological and financial, we can read signals that the old system design is breaking down. As Alperovitz and Dubb emphasize, leaving the existing corporate economic system essentially intact, and hedging it around with further regulations, seems less and less to represent a successful path to a vibrant and sustainable future. The critique and remedy must become more radical. While this seems to suggest a path of revolution, that too is unlikely to occur, and even less likely to succeed. We may well, as Alperovitz and Dubb write, confront a "potentially decades-long period" in which the system "neither 'reforms' nor collapses in 'crisis. '" This does indeed represent an opening for previously unprecedented strategic options-most promisingly, as they suggest, a step-by-step, evolutionary reconstruction of the fundamental social architecture of the economy. 1 In short, it means redesigning the architecture of ownership. As progressives begin contemplating such a strategy, we can be guided by the accumulating experiences of the alternative ownership designs that already exist-such as cooperatives, employee-owned firms, social enterprises, and The Architecture of Enterprise: Redesigning Ownership for a Great Transition marjorie kelly 6 2 | t h e g o o d s o c i e t y | vol. 22, no. 1
doi:10.1353/gso.2013.0000 fatcat:ofaohgda7rhepoz73y6uescuxe