New from me and @MannanMorshed in @Wired: all of a sudden Uber and Airbnb are wishing they were co-ops. We need more options for startups to #ExitToCommunity.
Nice piece, looking forward to reading the Georgetown article.
"Ownership" should be one of Raymond Williams' "keywords." In what sense(s) am I an owner of my credit union, really? If a company taps workers as a source of equity, does that make them owners? Is ownership in a cooperative individual? collective? The etymology of "own" (related to "owe") covers a lot of terrain including self, subordinate, confess, possess, receive...
Yes, "ownership" deserves some scrutiny. Ownership and control don't necessarily coincide. As Yves often points out on Naked Capitalism, stock ownership is a residual claim on assets, and nothing more. The C-suite (or equivalent) makes the decisions for the company, including what to allow stockholders to vote on. Which is to say, ownership alone is highly overrated.
It's the classic problem of ESOPs: ex real employee control they often function just like a trad business.
And yet, ownership is crucial in worker co-ops for example, or even in very low-functioning (in terms of democratic control) credit unions, for example... What interests me is when/how our contemporary notion of ownership came to be. The root is the same as eigen, which is used in autonomy or sovereignty in German. But, there is also owe which has meant, among other things, subordinate...
This. So very much this.
I use my own credit union as an example. We get to vote on who's on the BoD - and that's it. Everything still gets decided by the BoD, and other than that voting they have no accountability, while we the members have only three choices regarding their decisions:
1) Accept them
2) Wait for the next election and replace those we don't like
3) Leave the credit union
So here we have ownership but little control.
@ND3JR @GuerillaOntologist @Matt_Noyes of course. It is a corrupted thing, as mine is. But with ownership you have the basis of demanding more, of attending its meetings, of running for the board, or of starting a new one with deeper democracy.
Or forget ownership and start with something else. The point is we have to start somewhere.
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