Business

This article is based on my ideas about the Great Turning Movement. If you aren’t familiar with them, click here. It is linked to from my article Visions of a Regenerative Society. It describes how business might look in a transformed society.

Businesses will mostly be small and community oriented. This will be possible because of the decentralization of the new technologies. There will be governmental guardianship over corporations to make sure they are limited in size, unless there is a compelling reason for a business to have a global reach, and to make sure that they benefit their communities and the natural world.

Corporations were originally chartered (allowed to exist with limited liability) with the understanding that they would benefit society. Now they have taken over control of our government and are benefiting no one but their shareholders. This control must be reversed. Citizens will be made aware of the track records of businesses in terms of how they benefit their workers, the natural world, and their communities, and we will refuse to do business with ones that don’t uphold these standards. In some cases, their corporate charters will be revoked.

Businesses will be democratically run and often owned by their workers. Of course, there will still be a need for managers and leaders in businesses, but current power hierarchies will be replaced with decentralized control arrangements that empower workers. As much as possible, workers will also be the owners of their companies, and they will make democratic decisions about company policy.

Companies will be learning organizations which foster innovation, collaboration, self-determination, and creativity. Rather than workers being simply told what to do by their bosses, they will be encouraged to be creative and come up with the best solutions to problems, on their own or in collaborative teams. This is already happening in many companies.

We will use ecologically sustainable energy, manufacturing, and transportation practices, as mentioned in the section on Ecology and Technology. An example of this is the Interface company, which makes commercial carpets that are designed to be modular and sustainable, reducing their environmental footprint.

Businesses will still need to borrow money to expand, but they won’t do this through the stock market, because this gives away ownership of businesses to distant, uninvolved investors who only care about their monetary returns. This results in businesses being at the mercy of hostile takeovers if they don’t meet the quarterly bottom line, which prevents them from pursuing what is called the triple bottom line, which includes their workers, their local community, and the natural world.

There will be other mechanisms for borrowing that leave businesses in charge of their own fate. In this way, a business can focus on producing healthy, useful products, and enhancing the well-being of its workers and the environment. There won’t be investor pressure on businesses to keep expanding their size and markets, and so they can be small and oriented toward the communities that they serve and reside in.