Against Corporate Monoculture

Will Davies is the author of Reinventing the Firm, a Demos report made available today. A praise for corporate pluralism and financial mutuality:

“Capitalism is always a curious mixture of liberalism and despotism. It grants freedom, equality and participation with one hand, while it imposes orders, hierarchy and inequality with the other. We barely notice that we live schizophrenic economic lives, in which half our waking hours are spent being indulged and obeyed as sovereign consumers, while the other half is spent being ordered around as employees. But in neither case are we treated as responsible adults. To live responsibly, both as consumers and as workers, would mean exercising economic freedom with a sense of the stakes involved. The liberal and the despotic elements of capitalism would be brought a little closer together, so that freedom was never untrammelled and power never unaccountable. At the centre of an argument for employee ownership is a
subtly different vision of how economic power should be organised and utilised. Managers possess a greater sense of accountability to the employees who own the firm, while employees acquire a greater sense of responsibility for the assets that they are tasked with using and developing. An alternative form of autonomy is at work, that is very different from that demanded by the investors and executives that control listed companies.” (from Will Davies, 2009, Reinventing the Firm, Demos, 2009, p. 61)

See also “Mutuality would be a good fit for the Tories”, Financial Times, September 10 2009.

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