Reinventing The Firm

The financial crisis has called into question many of our core assumptions about economic structures, governance and institutions. But there has been little attention paid to the basic unit of economic collaboration and production: the firm.

In recent decades Britain developed a corporate monoculture in which the 'shareholder value' creed treated firms simply as the property of their shareholders, to be traded, exploited and disposed of in pursuit of profit.

How can firms be structured so that not only shareholders but employees, the economy and society profit?

Many of these models already exist. Mutual and employee-owned models of business operate with longer time-horizons, achieving higher levels of performance and customer satisfaction. They nurture greater power for individuals over their economic lives and increase the accountability of managers.

In a report published today by the think tank Demos, William Davies argues that it is time to bring these models out of the wilderness and into the debate about where capitalism goes next. It presents a wide range of quantitative data alongside three new case studies of employee-owned firms, including Quintessa, and offers a new vision of economic autonomy where democratic companies drive a happier and more sustainable economy.

"Employee ownership was chosen primarily for cultural reasons. Certainly within a company of talented individuals, it's only right that it is employee-owned."

David Hodgkinson, Managing Director, Quintessa