Alternative Ownership in the US

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* Report:State of Alternative Ownership in the U.S. RSF Social Finance and Purpose Foundation, 2018


a report about companies exploring alternative ownership models.


Anne Field:

"Drawing on interviews with more than 60 entrepreneurs, retiring founders and others, the report examines the concept of “Steward Ownership” and weaknesses in existing models, as well as new options.

The models discussed in the report all fall under the heading of steward ownership. That’s a philosophy which seeks to create structures that “keep a company’s underlying purpose deeply embedded in its operations”, enabling “generations of stewards to carry on the mission and values of an organization and protect its impact.” It also seeks to counter what Danaher calls “perverse incentives of capitalism”, whereby investors demand a level of growth that’s pretty much impossible for most companies.

The further problem in the U.S., according to Danaher, is that, while stewardship models exist, they’re problematic. Cooperatives provide for employee ownership, but, according to Danaher, they tend to have a hard time raising growth capital and often include a complex governance structure. With Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPS), regulated by the Employment Retirement Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), a business is sold to a retirement trust that benefits the employees. However, according to Danaher, over time, as a company grows, the cost of operating ESOPS requires continually funding those retirement accounts, harming the company’s ability to put money back in the business." (