The Business of Business Is To Serve

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Every human has a responsibility to behave in a way consistent with the well-being of others and the community at large. A human institution that represents an aggregation of economic power far beyond that of the average person can scarcely be absolved of comparable responsibility for how that power is used.  

Financial return is a reward for service rendered to the community in response to market demand. Therefore, the owners of an enterprise are entitled to a financial return on their investment only to the extent that the enterprise performs a useful service. The extraction of financial gain unrelated to the production of real value is a form of theft and society should prohibit it.

Ownership is key to connecting an enterprise to the community in which it does business. The greater the extent to which ownership of the enterprise is rooted in the community, meaning it is held by workers, customers, and community members who bear the consequences of its action, the greater the natural incentive to manage the enterprise in ways that contribute to the living human, social, and environmental wealth of the community. By contrast, absentee owners are unlikely to have knowledge of, let alone interest in, any outcome other than their own short-term financial gain.

It is a straightforward relationship. The greater the prevalence of absentee ownership, the greater the need for intrusive governmental intervention to prevent the abuse of the powers of aggregated financial capital. The larger and more powerful the enterprise, the more intrusive and restrictive government's hand must be.

When enterprise ownership is both rooted and shared among a variety of community stakeholders, there is a natural incentive for the enterprise to serve the community with integrity and to  recognize its responsibility to operate in a way that balances the interests of all its stakeholders. Shared, rooted ownership brings many social benefits beyond lessening the need for governmental oversight.

Participation in the ownership of community wealth gives individuals greater control of their economic destinies, enhancing their ability to plan for the future, pursue an education, purchase a home, or start their own business. The increased security, social status, and connectedness that normally come from ownership participation in turn contribute to good general physical and mental health. A true ownership society is a healthy society.