Commons-Based Organizational Forms

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Provisional draft of structure conceived by Wolfgang Hoeschele for the compilation of a research wiki.

Available via [email protected]


Wolfgang Hoeschele:

"An organization promotes freedom if it ensures that all stakeholders (e.g., employees, owners, customers, students, beneficiaries, people affected by indirect impacts such as pollution) obtain benefits that help them to fulfill their needs, including the need to live life as art. Subject to mutual obligations that are needed to ensure the sustainable and equitable use of the resources entrusted to it, the organization must ensure that all individual stakeholders are enabled to pursue their own individual paths according to their own interests and predilections.

An organization is equitable if it ensures that there is a balance between the work that stakeholders provide and the benefits that they receive, and that all relevant stakeholders share in a reasonable way both in the benefits and the responsibilities that come with the activities performed by the organization. The test of reasonableness is to be performed through democratic deliberation among the people concerned.

Both equity and freedom in the context of an organization mean that the organization seeks to satisfy people’s needs regardless of divisions such as class, gender, ethnic or national origin, race, caste, religious or ideological belief, and sexual orientation.

An organization is sustainable if it ensures that the resource bases it requires or affects remain undiminished in quantity and quality, and that the needs of stakeholders are satisfied (including the need for an income if the organization is supposed to provide employment).

Organizational forms can be classified as those that emphasize control or ownership by private entities (individuals, corporations, partnerships), communities, the government, or no-one (open access). However, this only provides a rough classification, since most forms of ownership and control involve some degree of hybridity - for example, private property is regulated by government, which thus exerts some degree of control over its use. When the only relevant stakeholder is one individual, individual private property is an appropriate form of property, but in most cases there are numerous relevant stakeholders, which means that abundance is promoted through some form of shared property.

This is discussed in further detail here:

Finally, there are some resources that are increased in quality or quantity if they are widely shared, in which case open access should be promoted if that can be reconciled with ensuring that people who depend on the production of those resources can be assured appropriate rewards for their efforts (this is typically the case with knowledge). Open access approaches are appropriate here."

More Information

  1. Commons-Based Needs
  2. Commons-Based Resources