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Capitalism 2.0? CoCo Companies: Co-ownership and Co-creation

“What makes wage slaves?” asked Groucho Marx once. “Wages.”

The Employee Ownership Association in the UK today publishes a paper by Richard Reeves (whose Intelligence Agency site seems permanently closed for renovation, but his contact details are up there) on CoCo Companies – companies that practise co-ownership and co-creation.

If you were to create an ideal business or organizational form from a blank sheet today, to fit the expectations people have of their lives and work, and to bring people together in a joint enterprise, it would look far more like a CoCo company than it would a limited company.

“CoCo companies may offer an organisational model whose time has come”, says Richard.

Mutual or co-operative enterprises, with a new injection of co-creation, may finally fulfil the promise John Stuart Mill held for them a century and a half ago.

Richard’s biography of Mill comes out this year and he quotes the philosopher-economist as saying that co-ownership holds out the prospect of:

“…the healing of the standing feud between labour and capital; the transformation of human life, from a conflict of classes struggling for opposite interests, to a friendly rivalry in their pursuit of a common good to all; the elevation of the dignity of labour; a new sense of security and independence in the labouring classes; and the conversion of each human being’s daily occupation into a school of the social sympathies and practical intelligence.”

Gets my vote.

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