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Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

Jonathan Preminger

Following critiques of shareholder capitalism and calls for reform of the corporation, employee-owned firms have attracted public and government attention in the UK and…

Abstract

Following critiques of shareholder capitalism and calls for reform of the corporation, employee-owned firms have attracted public and government attention in the UK and elsewhere, based on the view that these alternative organizations serve a broader public purpose. However, despite attempts to broaden the measures for evaluating organizations and take seriously the social effects of business decisions, we lack a holistic framework for evaluating this public purpose that addresses aspirations like participation, democracy, equality, solidarity, and strong community relations alongside financial resilience and profitability. This study proposes that a solution can be found in Selznick’s concept of “moral community.” Selznick argued that community, conceived as a response to the perceived unravelling of the social fabric, plays a vital role in countering the excesses of capitalism. Using this as a yardstick to evaluate employee ownership (EO) in the UK, the author argues that the EO organizational field is indeed an embodiment of a moral community. It successfully infuses a broad range of social values into economic pursuits, nurtures an inclusive sense of the “common good,” and mitigates the alienation resulting from an increasingly marketized society. At the same time, the EO moral community does not reject capitalism as such, aspiring to connect with and reform existing political, financial, and legal structures as opposed to positioning its own institutions as an alternative to them. There are, therefore, limits to the challenge that the EO community levels against the current socioeconomic order.

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Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

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Article
Publication date: 28 June 2011

Colin C. Williams, Sara Nadin and Peter Rodgers

Since the turn of the millennium, a small corpus of post‐structuralist thought has emerged that challenges the dominant belief that capitalism is now hegemonic and that…

Abstract

Purpose

Since the turn of the millennium, a small corpus of post‐structuralist thought has emerged that challenges the dominant belief that capitalism is now hegemonic and that all economic formations are contrasting varieties of capitalism. This paper seeks to contribute to the development of this emergent perspective. The aim is to challenge the notion that the Ukrainian economy can be represented as some variety of capitalism by highlighting the shallow permeation of capitalist practices into daily life and the continuing prevalence of multifarious non‐capitalist economic practices.

Design/methodology/approach

To achieve this, evidence is here reported from a 2005‐6 survey that analysed the extent to which 600 households in Ukraine used capitalist and non‐capitalist economic practices in their coping tactics.

Findings

This reveals not only the limited use of capitalist practices in the everyday coping tactics of households in Ukraine but also how an array of non‐capitalist economic practices remain heavily relied on by a majority of households to secure their livelihood. The outcome is a call to tentatively reject the “varieties of capitalism” system of meaning because of what it excludes, prohibits and denies, and to open up the future of post‐Soviet Ukraine to other possible trajectories than simply some variety of capitalism.

Research limitations/implications

This snapshot survey of the everyday coping practices of households displays only that capitalist practices are not hegemonic and that multifarious economic relations persist and are widespread. It does not show whether or not there is movement towards greater reliance on capitalist practices.

Originality/value

It begins through the presentation of evidence on Ukraine to tentatively challenge the application of a “varieties of capitalism” perspective towards Central and Eastern European economies.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 33 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 2 October 2007

Colin C. Williams and John Round

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate critically the meta‐narrative that capitalism is becoming totalising and hegemonic. Grounded in an emerging corpus of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate critically the meta‐narrative that capitalism is becoming totalising and hegemonic. Grounded in an emerging corpus of post‐development thought that has deconstructed this discourse in relation to western economies and the majority (third) world, the purpose of this paper is to further contribute to this burgeoning critique by analysing the degree to which capitalism has penetrated a post‐socialist society, namely Ukraine.

Design/methodology/approach

To analyse the penetration of capitalism, a survey is reported of the work practices of 600 households in a array of localities in Ukraine, conducted during 2005/2006 using face‐to‐face interviews.

Findings

Analysing the practices used by households to secure their livelihoods, the finding is that capitalism is far from hegemonic. Even when the formal economy is relied on either as their most important or second most important source of livelihood, it is nearly always combined with some other economic activity. A diverse portfolio of work practices is thus the norm rather than the exception with over 90 per cent of households relying on sources other than the formal market sphere as either their most important or second most important source of livelihood.

Practical implications

Displaying the shallow penetration of capitalism in this array of localities in Ukraine, this paper reveals the need for a re‐representation of the realities of work in such post‐socialist societies so as to open up the feasibility of, and possibilities for, alternative futures for work.

Originality/value

This paper reports the first evaluation of the extent to which capitalism has penetrated work practices in post‐socialist Ukraine.

Details

Journal of Economic Studies, vol. 34 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3585

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Book part
Publication date: 2 September 2016

Bernard Paranque and Hugh Willmott

From a perspective of ‘critical performativity’, John Lewis is of special interest since it is celebrated as a successful organization and heralded as an alternative to

Abstract

Purpose

From a perspective of ‘critical performativity’, John Lewis is of special interest since it is celebrated as a successful organization and heralded as an alternative to more typical forms of capitalist enterprise.

Methodology/approach

Our analysis uses secondary empirical material (e.g. JLP documents in the public domain, histories of John Lewis and recent empirical research). Our assumption is that engagement and interrogation of existing empirical work can be at least as illuminating and challenging as undertaking new studies. In addition to generating fresh insights, stimulating reflection and fostering debate, our analysis is intended to contribute to an appreciation of how structures of ownership and governance are significant in enabling and constraining practices of organizing and managing.

Findings

The structures of ownership and governance at John Lewis, a major UK employee-owned retailer, have been commended by those who wish to recuperate capitalism and by those who seek to transform it.

Research limitations/implications

JLP can be read as a ‘subversive intervention’ insofar as it denies absentee investors access to, and control of, its assets. Currently, however, even the critical performative potential of the Partnership model is impeded by its paternalist structures. Exclusion of Partners’ participation in the market for corporate control is reflected in, and compounded by, a weak form of ‘democratic’ governance, where managers are accountable to Partners but not controlled by them.

Practical implications

Our contention is that JLP’s ownership and governance structures offer a practical demonstration, albeit flawed, of how an alternative form of organization is sufficiently ‘efficient’ and durable to be able to ‘compete’ against joint-stock companies.

Originality/value

By examining the cooperative elements of the John Lewis structures of ownership and governance, we illuminate a number of issues faced in realizing the principles ascribed to employee-owned cooperatives – notably, with regard to ‘democratic member control’, ‘member economic participation’ and ‘autonomy and independence’.

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Finance Reconsidered: New Perspectives for a Responsible and Sustainable Finance
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-980-0

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Article
Publication date: 31 May 2011

Abdoulie Sallah and Colin C. Williams

This paper aims to evaluate critically the meta‐narrative that there is no alternative to capitalism. Building upon an emerging body of post‐structuralist thought that has

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to evaluate critically the meta‐narrative that there is no alternative to capitalism. Building upon an emerging body of post‐structuralist thought that has begun deconstructing this discourse in relation to western economies and post‐Soviet societies, this paper further extends this critique to Sub‐Saharan Africa by investigating the degree to which people in the Gambia rely on the capitalist market economy for their livelihood. Reporting the results of 80 household face‐to‐face interviews (involving over 500 people), the finding is that only a small minority of households in contemporary Gambian society rely on the formal market economy alone to secure their livelihood and that the vast majority depend on a plurality of market and non‐market economic practices. The outcome is a call to re‐think the lived practices of economic transition in Sub‐Saharan Africa in general and the Gambia in particular, so as to open up the feasibility of, and possibilities for, alternative economic futures beyond capitalist hegemony.

Design/methodology/approach

Some 80 households (involving over 500 people) were interviewed face‐to‐face on their livelihood coping strategies.

Findings

Reporting the results of 80 household face‐to‐face interviews (involving over 500 people), the finding is that only a small minority of households in contemporary Gambian society rely on the formal market economy alone to secure their livelihood and that the vast majority depend on a plurality of market and non‐market economic practices.

Practical implications

The outcome is a call to re‐think the lived practices of economic transition in Sub‐Saharan Africa in general and the Gambia in particular, so as to open up the feasibility of, and possibilities for, alternative economic futures beyond capitalist hegemony.

Originality/value

This research gives us an empirical understanding of the implications of lived experiences of people's day‐to‐day livelihood coping strategies, which refutes the capitalist's thesis and calls of a re‐think on economic and sustainable development policies and strategies in Sub‐Saharan Africa

Details

Foresight, vol. 13 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 1987

John E. Elliott and Joanna V. Scott

This article examines relationships between capitalism and democracy as perceived by contending perspectives within the liberal capitalist‐liberal democratic tradition(s)…

Abstract

This article examines relationships between capitalism and democracy as perceived by contending perspectives within the liberal capitalist‐liberal democratic tradition(s). Bentham and the Mills are taken as initiating both this tradition and the core elements of the debate within it. Pre‐Benthamite theories are first reviewed. Then, after discussion of Bentham and James Mill and of John Stuart Mill, Mill's late nineteenth and early twentieth century successors are examined. We then go on to consider hypotheses concerning the “exceptional” quality of relationships between capitalism and democracy in the United States. The penultimate section of the article adumbrates the main contours of mid‐twentieth century pluralist‐elitist theories. We conclude with a summary.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 14 no. 7/8/9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 5 November 2020

Abeer Allahham

This paper aims to assess the contemporary paradigm of urban utopia’s ability to fulfil its goals and to evaluate its attainability in the first place. Its main question…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to assess the contemporary paradigm of urban utopia’s ability to fulfil its goals and to evaluate its attainability in the first place. Its main question is: are contemporary urban utopias achievable? If not, is there an alternative?

Design/methodology/approach

In light of modern urban utopia’s failure to achieve the “good city/society,” skepticism regarding utopianism has prevailed. However, many scholars stress the significance of utopianism, calling for its revival. Recently, a new paradigm of urban utopia has emerged; one that stems from present capitalist urban conditions and requires resolving its ills. It puts great emphasis on rights as a means to accomplish the good society and the just city. This research critically examines contemporary urban utopia to evaluate its ability to fulfill its goals. It poses questions such as: Does capitalism facilitates achieving its goals? Could rights as a means achieve the good city/society? If not, is there an alternative? To answer these questions, a substantially different perspective, that of Islam (as a societal system), is used as a utopic paradigm that could open up new paths for developing an alternative utopia.

Findings

It is found that despite the focus of both the Islamic societal system and mainstream contemporary urban utopia is on the concept of rights, vital dissensions exist between the two models regarding the concept of rights per se. Hence, the urban utopia of the good city and society is achievable, yet, it cannot transpire within the capitalist kaleidoscope.

Originality/value

Recently, discussions on what constitutes the future city and the alternative conceptions to the (Western) post-Enlightenment approaches generally offered in the English language planning literature have been on the rise. Therefore, this paper contributes to this debate through critically assessing Western contemporary urban utopias from a non-Western perspective, that of Islam. It introduces an alternative model based on Islamic urbanism that could open doors for deeper thinking regarding the alternative future/good city.

Details

Open House International, vol. 46 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0168-2601

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2020

Teppo Eskelinen and Juhana Venäläinen

This paper explores economic moralities in self-organised alternative economies and argues that the diverse economies approach is particularly useful in elaborating the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores economic moralities in self-organised alternative economies and argues that the diverse economies approach is particularly useful in elaborating the self-understandings of such economic communities. The analysis focuses on two types of alternative economies in Finland: ridesharing and timebanking.

Design/methodology/approach

Through qualitative data, the paper looks into moments of negotiation where economic moralities of self-organised alternative economies are explicitly debated. The main research data consists of social media conversations, supplemented by a member survey for the participants of the studied timebank. The data are analysed through theory-guided qualitative content analysis.

Findings

The analysis shows that the moments of negotiation within alternative economies should not be understood as simple collisions of mutually exclusive ideas, but rather as complex processes of balancing between overlapping and partly incommensurable economic moralities. While self-organised alternative economies might appear as functionally uniform at the level of their everyday operations, they still provide considerable leeway for different conceptions of the underlying normative commitments.

Originality/value

To date, there is little qualitative research on how the participants of self-organised alternative economies reflect the purpose and ethics of these practices. This study contributes to the body of diverse economies research by analysing novel case studies in the Finnish context. Through empirical analysis, this paper also provides a theoretical framework of how the different economic moralities in self-organised alternative economies can be mapped.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 41 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 18 August 2014

Sarah Stookey

The purpose of this chapter is to make the case for significant change in the content and structure of undergraduate business education in the United States. The premise…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to make the case for significant change in the content and structure of undergraduate business education in the United States. The premise is that business education is generally effective at Getting Things Done – but that generally what it Gets Done is the Wrong Things – advancing destructive tendencies in capitalism – rather than the Right Things – fostering sustainable and democratic alternatives.

Design/methodology/approach

The chapter advances a viewpoint about the current weaknesses and potential strengths of undergraduate business education, relative to the goal of creating more sustainable, community-based economic and social organization. It is structured as a reflection on the history of business education in the United States and on the author’s experience as a professor at a public university.

Findings

The analysis suggests that while undergraduate business education in the United States serves largely to buttress unsustainable and fundamentally destructive tendencies in capitalism the social characteristics of the students and the fundamental nature of the material also makes it – in an apparent paradox – potentially a very rich process, system and venue for fostering more sustainable, community-based economic and social organization.

Originality/value

The value of the chapter lies in the author’s relatively rare perspective as an activist-oriented critical management professor in a U.S. business school. The combination of theoretical and political perspective and experience in the classroom and the larger University offers the possibility of stimulating new avenues of discussion, especially among academics and administrators dissatisfied with the current state of educational practice.

Details

Getting Things Done
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-954-6

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Article
Publication date: 6 May 2014

Colin C. Williams

The aim of this paper is to contribute to the literature that has sought to deconstruct this ideologically driven depiction by demonstrating how the existent enterprise…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to contribute to the literature that has sought to deconstruct this ideologically driven depiction by demonstrating how the existent enterprise culture in post-Soviet spaces not only challenges the depiction of the entrepreneur as a heroic icon of the legitimate capitalist culture but also opens up the feasibility of alternative futures beyond legitimate profit-driven capitalism. The starting point of this paper is that the enterprise culture is often viewed as inextricably related to the legitimate capitalist economy.

Design/methodology/approach

To unravel the nature of the enterprise culture in lived practice, this paper reports a 2006 survey involving face-to-face interviews with 90 entrepreneurs in Moscow.

Findings

Only 7 per cent of the Muscovite entrepreneurs surveyed pursue profit-driven legitimate entrepreneurship. The vast majority adopts social goals to varying degrees and operates wholly or partially in the informal economy. The outcome is to challenge the depiction of an enterprise culture and capitalism as inextricably inter-related and to open up entrepreneurship and enterprise culture in this post-Soviet space to re-signification as demonstrative of the feasibility of imagining and enacting alternative futures beyond capitalism.

Research limitations/implications

These findings are tentative, as they are based on a small-scale study of just one post-socialist city. Further research is now required to analyse whether the lived practices of entrepreneurship and enterprise cultures are similarly diverse in other post-Soviet spaces as well as beyond.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to evaluate critically the assumption that enterprise culture is a part of the legitimate capitalist economy in post-Soviet spaces.

Details

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1750-6204

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