Synopses & Reviews
"Kelly (The Divine Right of Capital) pre-sents us with alternative designs to the corporate economic structures that have their heart in Wall Street. These 'generative structures,' as she calls them, are working models based on social well-being and ecological sustainability. Ideally, generative designs embody models of belonging 'self-organized around the needs of life' its sine qua non being a sense of ownership that takes a long view; a 'living purpose' as opposed to a strictly financial purpose. Her attack then is focused against short-term biased forms of predatory financialization: 'extractive' ownership, high-frequency trading, and credit default swaps. Yet with statements like 'Capital is master. Labor is servant' and her presentation of Wall Street finance as a sort of enemy, one may mistake Kelly's work as an anticapitalist screed. Her goal, however, is to reimagine capitalism as a more inclusive game that accounts for the social and ecological implications of economic production. Moreover, she is interested in analyzing 'social architectures' ('who will make economic decisions, and how, using what kinds of organizing structures?'), while fostering 'ownership in the hands of stakeholders intimately involved with the tangible workings of the enterprise.' Though Kelly does not present specific solutions, she succeeds in demonstrating how more sustainable business ventures can function in practice. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“This magnificent book is a kind of recipe for how civilization might cope with its too-big-to-fail problem. It’s a hardheaded, clear-eyed, and therefore completely moving account of what a different world might look like—what it already does look like in enough places that you will emerge from its pages inspired to get involved.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy
“This book is not only brilliant but also tremendously important. It’s one of those rare books that opens our eyes to the fact that something we’ve taken for granted is actually intrinsically destructive and can be replaced by alternative, healthier forms of organization. I found it exhilarating.”
—Fritjof Capra, physicist and author of The Tao of Physics and The Hidden Connections
“As a serial entrepreneur who’s started three traditional shareholder-owned businesses, I know from experience what’s wrong with that model. The future belongs to the alternative forms of ownership Kelly writes about. This is a book the world desperately needs.”
—Jeffrey Hollender, cofounder and former CEO, Seventh Generation
All of the current attempts to address the economic collapse are overlooking an essential factor: ownership. So long as businesses are set up to focus exclusively on maximizing monetary returns per quarter for a narrow group of individuals the economy will be subject to crippling boom-and-bust cycles. But now people are experimenting with new forms of enterprise ownership--we are in the midst of the most creative period of economic innovation since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Marjorie Kelly calls these new forms generative: life-serving, aimed at creating the conditions for life for many generations to come. They are in contrast to the dominant ownership designs of today, which can be called extractive: aimed at extracting maximum short-term financial wealth.
To understand these emerging ownership alternatives, Kelly reports from all over the world, visiting a community-owned wind facility in Massachusetts, a lobster cooperative in Maine, a multi-billion-dollar employee-owned firm in London, a foundation-owned pharmaceutical in Denmark, a farmer-owned dairy in Wisconsin, and other places where an economy that works for all is being built.
This is not a moment for old solutions and tired approaches. As we enter a new era of limits, alternative ownership designs can help it become a new era of fairness, sustainability, and community.
Building an Economy That Works for All
As long as businesses are set up to focus exclusively on maximizing financial income for the few, our economy will be locked into endless growth and widening inequality. But now people are experimenting with new forms of ownership, which Marjorie Kelly calls generative: aimed at creating the conditions for life for many generations to come. These designs may hold the key to the deep transformation our civilization needs.
To understand these emerging alternatives, Kelly reports from all over the world, visiting a community-owned wind facility in Massachusetts, a lobster cooperative in Maine, a multibillion-dollar employee-owned department-store chain in London, a foundation-owned pharmaceutical company in Denmark, a farmer-owned dairy in Wisconsin, and other places where a hopeful new economy is being built. Along the way, she finds the five essential patterns of ownership design that make these models work.
Winner of the 2013 Nautilus Silver Award in the category of Business/Leadership.
About the Author
is a Fellow at Tellus Institute and Director of Ownership Strategy with Cutting Edge Capital. She consults with private companies and leads research projects for the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and others. She co-founded Corporation 20/20, a project to create the vision for the future corporation. Kelly was the co-founder and for 20 years president of Business Ethics magazine. Her writings have appeared in publications such as the Harvard Business Review, Utne Reader, Chief Executive, Tikkun, E Magazine, and Yes Magazine.
Foreword Author David Korten is an author, president and founder of the People-Centered Development Forum, and board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He is an associate of the International Forum on Globalization and a member of the Club of Rome. Some of his bestselling titles include The Great Turning and When Corporations Rule the World. He is a regular guest on talk radio and television and a popular speaker at conferences around the world.
Table of Contents
Foreword – by Jeffrey Hollender
Introduction – The journey ahead
Part I – The Evolution of Ownership: Home
From dwelling on the land to tangled in debt
1. Debt, Inc.: Extractive design
2. The Community Bank: Generative design
3. The Faux Community Bank: Capital formation
4. Wall Street: Financial alchemy
5. Acceleration: Ownership for a nanosecond
6. Overload: Extraction in extreme
7. Derivatives: Losing touch with reality
8. Collapse: Erosion from below
Part II – The Turning Point: The Commons
Beginning the world anew
9. Waking Up: No separate systems
10. The Island: Beyond growth
11. Bringing Forth a World: The ecosystem of generative design
Part III – The Design Challenge Ahead: Enterprise
Living companies for a generative economy
13. The Employee-Owned Store: Social boundaries
14. The Mission-Controlled Corporation: Governance
15. Finance Revisited: Capital
16. The Farmer-Owned Dairy: Networks
17. Coda: Next