In the tiny region of Emilia-Romagna Italy, the Communist party is not in charge. Well, the top official is Communist, but he is a different type. The failure of Communism is self-evident economically. I suspect the party in Italy can read history to understand it. What is more common in this region of Italy that contains a large market share of Italy’s agricultural industry and is also the home to some of the world’s finest cars is the fact that ownership of the means of production are spread out among many.
But Jared, that is Communism, what are you some kind of reincarnation of Stalin or Mao? No, that would be a system where nobody owns the means of production and these means are controlled by a central government. I mentioned that the means are owned by the many, not collectively but personally.
One of leadership studies’ core problems is “How do we get followers to take ownership of their work?” There is little doubt in my mind that a person that employees other workers should try their hardest to create work ownership. But employee/employer model creates difficulties because the system is geared to not owning the means of production. A different business model may solve the problem. How about nobody owns the means of production? Ahh, you are right, that is Communism and gets a fail notice.
A third option may be the cooperative. This is where each person owns a piece of the pie. Large and small examples proliferate around the world. Each person has a direct interest in the success of the firm because each are partners. Corporate decisions are made by the owners of the means so again it is spread out. From what I have read, many of these businesses are doing fairly well even in the recession. This is because their focus usually points in the direction of the long-term rather than the immediate and have planned in the good times that there will be a day when money will no longer grow on trees.
Enter now the success of the small. How successful? Take a look:
• Cooperatives make up over 40% of the GDP of the ER region
• In Bologna two out of three citizens are members of a cooperative
• In Bologna over 85% of the city's social services are provided by social co-ops
• Per capita income in ER has risen from 17th to second among Italy's 20 regions
• Per capital income is 50% higher than the national average
• Of the European regions, ER is number 11 of 122 regions in terms of GNP per inhabitant
• Bologna has the highest disposable income of any of Italy's 103 provinces
• Bologna has the highest per capita expenditure on the arts of any city in Italy
• The unemployment rate of 4% is virtually full employment
• 70% of Bologna's households have home ownership
Of course, the next question is “Can this system be duplicated?” Well can it? How about a Victorian cooperatively owned and operated center for conventions?
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