The Company as a Living System:
Enterprise Design for a Sustainable, Equitable Economy
Marjorie Kelly and Sarah Stranahan
Are mission-controlled, employee-owned companies better environmental stewards than conventional finance-controlled corporations? Is transitioning to employee ownership a more likely path to keeping a firm’s ecological mission alive, compared to selling a firm to a large competitor? The answer to these questions is critical to enterprise design for the 21st century and beyond. If we understand the relationship between enterprise design and a sustainable, equitable economy, we can be more deliberate in the choices we make.
To illuminate this issue, the Fifty by Fifty project has prepared a series of company profiles, with support from Partners for a New Economy.
Our initial finding: Ownership by workers, combined with mission-driven governance, is an emerging model — viable in today’s economy — that embodies critically needed design elements required for true environmental and social sustainability. This is the employee-owned B Corporation or benefit corporation.
These are companies where founders have avoided sale to financial owners, instead passing ownership to employees as stewards, embedding a commitment to social and ecological benefit in governing documents.fiftybyfifty-nextgenenterprisedesign