Commons Society entrepreneurs, whether in actual social enterprises or otherwise, still make profits and are rewarded for their efforts in the normal way. However once a company becomes part of a Commons Society it cannot be sold or be subject to a hostile takeover thus protecting purpose and legacy and thereby building stability, resilience and legitimacy. In doing so it binds private ownership into the common good and into supporting civil society and the environment.
A Commons Society offers a route for private capital to invest in the productive economy but abolishes the tyranny of shareholder speculation that forces companies to mercilessly drive shareholder returns above all other considerations. Instead it incentivizes companies and workers to build productive capacity and make profit for the common good. It does not inhibit investment but it does abolish speculation – in shares, people and capability.
Rather than pressing companies into sharing value as a peripheral afterthought to economic activity through corporate responsibility programmes, the essence of this model is that once companies join a Commons Society, they become part of a system inherently designed to share value. Whilst it is likely companies committed to social and environmental sustainability would be more inclined to voluntarily join, the Commons Society can buy a company in the free market. Thereafter the company would then operate according to the rules of the commons. Consequently a key systemic capacity of a Commons Society is its ability to transform all kinds of organisations into ‘social enterprises’.
Business owners outside of the Commons Society may wish to bring their company in when for example they retire or choose to exit their business. When they do so they are rewarded for their efforts in building their business and in addition are assured their enterprise will go forward within a stable structure that protects their purpose, founding impulse and co-worker team.
Integral to the growth of the Commons Society is the Enterprise Development Fund which acts like a bank to support member companies and organisations develop, and which can bring in new companies, thereby growing the network.
By turning the logic of capitalism on itself, through an acquisition and investment mechanism within an economic ecosystem committed to building, protecting and sharing value, we can create a collaborative commons economy that mutualizes zones within the market and encourages freedom of individual enterprise and in so doing curbs the financial excesses that the world has come to rue so keenly.