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Can business trusts be commons?

on Wed, 12/21/2011 - 06:14



Presented by Patrick Andrews, Tim Phillips and Rick Trask

The Challenge

The advent of limited liability and joint stock companies (while very useful in raising capital for large projects, creating and privatising wealth, and converting natural wealth to money wealth) has created distant owners and limited loyalty to the business.

This has resulted in:

• Short term thinking (impacting medium term sustainability).

• Disengaged employees (increased costs of high turnover, reduced commitment, and lack of adaptability and creativity).

• A lack of responsibility for the organisation's actions and activities (negatively impacting customers, suppliers, the local community, the environment and society)

They all contribute to the current economic, environmental and social mess we are currently experiencing.

The Opportunity – Business Trusts

We need to reconnect and re-engage in our businesses. This means:

• Encouraging responsibility for the resources we use and hold in trust (resources in trust)

• Reconfirming the essential nature of the employee/members in the business

• Recognising the mutual respect and support that must take place between the individual employees, the employees as a group (as represented by the business/organisation), and society and the environment.

The presentation will briefly review the current social, economic and organisational challenges, describe the Business Trust approach, and discuss some possible implications for a living, learning organisation.

VENUE: OneAlfredPlace, London, WC1E 7EB

TO REGISTER, VISIT where you can book online.

For further information contact


That presentation of SoL-UK seems to be of great importance to all commoners for in recent conversations of the commons movement there have been much attention given to natural and digital commons but hardly any exploration of the relationship 

To start such an exploration we would need to ask:

  • How decisions are made in business trusts about issues that affect all members?
  • How is a business trust different from a worker cooperative?
  • Would you consider John Lewis Partnership or Suma Wholefoods or Mondragon a business trust? If not, why not?
  • Can a Community Interest Company be the appropriate legal form of business trust in the UK, given that "business trust" is not  recognized im its Companies Law? If yes, what are its implications for attracting investors?

What other questions do you think could be useful to see into, as we explore what business trusts can learn from other forms of commons and vice versa?