For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Ownership of Enterprise

by Hansman, Henry (1996)

Abstract

[From publisher] The investor-owned corporation is the conventional form for structuring large-scale enterprise in market economies. But it is not the only one. Even in the United States, noncapitalist firms play a vital role in many sectors. Employee-owned firms have long been prominent in the service professions—law, accounting, investment banking, medicine—and are becoming increasingly important in other industries. The buyout of United Airlines by its employees is the most conspicuous recent instance. Farmer-owned produce cooperatives dominate the market for most basic agricultural commodities. Consumer-owned utilities provide electricity to one out of eight households. Key firms such as MasterCard, Associated Press, and Ace Hardware are service and supply cooperatives owned by local businesses. Occupant-owned condominiums and cooperatives are rapidly displacing investor-owned rental housing. Mutual companies owned by their policyholders sell half of all life insurance and one quarter of all property and liability insurance. And nonprofit firms, which have no owners at all, account for 90 percent of all nongovernmental schools and colleges, two thirds of all hospitals, half of all day-care centers, and one quarter of all nursing homes.

Keywords

Investor-Owned Firms, Employee-Owned Firms, American Context, Noncapitalist Firms, Firms, Cooperatives, Housing Sector, Nonprofit Firms, Ownership

Themes

Theory of the Firm

Links to Reference

Citation


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