Centre for Mutual and Employee-owned Business
The ownership of businesses is a crucial element in determining how they are governed, whose interests they prioritise and how they are held to account. While conventional, shareholder-owned businesses are primarily accountable to external investors, for whom they are expected to maximise financial returns, mutual and employee-owned businesses are organised along different principles, which factor in a broader array of interests and values.
Mutuals (such as building societies in the financial sector or Foundation Trust Hospitals in the public sector) are run on behalf of their members, who use and depend on them; they do not sell shares. Employee-owned businesses are either organised as mutuals, accountable to their employees (such as the John Lewis Partnership in the UK) or employees hold a controlling share.
This is an under-appreciated and under-researched part of the economy. The Centre for Mutual and Employee-owned Business exists to develop and compile research on these alternative corporate forms, and to act as an academic hub for economists, sociologists, political scientists, lawyers and business and management scholars, with an interest in broadening debates about ownership and corporate governance.
The assumption that businesses ought necessarily be governed for the maximisation of financial returns to external shareholders has come under increasing strain in recent years, and there is growing public and policy interest in challenging the orthodox model of the corporation. Via research, events, advocacy and the development of a new educational curriculum in mutual business, the Centre will seek to become a leading source of expertise on ownership and corporate governance, and to develop academic and public understanding of mutual and employee-owned models.
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