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Who owns it?


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An outline of the state of and key trends around economic ownership, including markets, commons, co-operatives and peer to peer production

Published in: Economy & Finance
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Who owns it?

  1. 1. WHO OWNS IT?
  2. 2. Who owns what here? Lunar Embassy Inc. will sell you an acre of moon land for $12, or $15 with mineral rights.
  3. 3. “Ownership is the gravitational field that holds our economy in its orbit.” Marjorie Kelly
  4. 4. There is a long history of thinking around ownership, ranging from philosophers and theologians to generals and emperors. The Bundle Theory of Ownership offers a modern pick’n’mix, covering exclusion, rivalry, use, power, remedy, immunity and remedy…
  5. 5. Ownership in economics Private Club Common Public   Rivalry: if I have it, you can’t Excludability: I can, and can decide if you do
  6. 6. It is a hallmark of industrial development to bring common resources, such as nature and unpaid work, into the market as private property, and to assign a low status to what remains
  7. 7. Robber Barons and their castles on the Rhine – too much private ownership means all lose out
  8. 8. The idea of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ held that common ownership degrades over time because it is in everyone’s personal interest to over-use what they don't own. Elinor Ostrom showed this was not inevitable, illustrated by her field research in a Swiss village. Here farmers tended private plots for crops but shared a village meadow to graze their cows. There were no problems with overgrazing, because of an agreement among villagers that dated back to 1517. She concluded that you can’t simply reduce ownership to public or private, let alone public bad and private good (or vice- versa). The Beauty of the Commons
  9. 9. Ownership can reflect a moral conception “It is worth pausing to consider for a moment the underlying meaning of the word ‘own’. The word used for possession from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century was not ‘own’ but ‘owe’.” George Goyder
  10. 10. The largest gains from employee ownership are where all employees participate rather than just managers. Professor Virginie Perotin draws on a range of studies to conclude that businesses create more sustainable employment where they are structured as worker co-operatives, with active employee control of, and involvement in, the life of the firm. A study of family owned firms, by Henssen et al, argues likewise for an approach to ownership that includes its psychological dimension – the feeling of ownership – as crucial. The Psychology of Ownership
  11. 11. The Future of Ownership …in Britain, 1985 “Let us together set our sights on a Britain: — where three out of four families own their home; — where owning shares is as common as having a car” Margaret Thatcher October 1985
  12. 12. So what has happened since 1985? Here are the key ownership trends…
  13. 13. Economic ownership
  14. 14. The ownerless corporation? “There is a huge vacuum of ownership. Firms have investors who regard investments as betting slips, not owners who regard them as property. Making more companies work slightly harder through better ownership would have a gigantic effect on Britain’s competitiveness and prosperity as a nation.” Jesse Norman MP
  15. 15. “Peer to peer collaboration is creating a new generation of ‘co-operatives without walls’” Robin Murray
  16. 16. The Sharing Economy creates digital platforms at scale for people to re-use goods and services - but without shared ownership, as yet, of those platforms.
  17. 17. Which forms of ownership over time will the digital economy take? Private Club Common Public
  18. 18. Tomorrow’s new economy, based on information and light, may not be bound by scarcity in the same way as today – so that ownership will be more about access and sustainability. The future of ownership Ownership is not set in stone. Over time, we have moved from a wide diversity of ownership across cultures to a narrow ideology of private, investor ownership. Now, like an hourglass, we are opening up again to more of a mix.
  19. 19. The patterns of ownership we will see in future will reflect the values of the society and economy we choose to live in and to create.
  20. 20. Resources and contact Ed Mayo @edmayo1 ownership-agenda-thirty-years member_shares.pdf
  21. 21. All images licensed for re-use with acknowledgements • • content/uploads/2015/08/20a01e53cf309102_640_planets.jpg • Arcalino / Wikimedia Commons ingen_Rhein.jpg • • • • Modifications made by Hic et nunc. • John Wright • Wellcome Trust • • created by Colleen Simon for