Marjorie Kelly has had her writing published in many different venues, including during her 20 years as President of Business Ethics magazine (see a link to Marjorie’s Musings columns at the bottom of this page). Her work at The Democracy Collaborative, Tellus Institute and Cutting Edge Capital has led to numerous publications, many of which appear below.
The Democracy Collaborative
Community Wealth Building: The Path towards a Democratic and Reparative Political Economic System (with Thomas M. Hanna, January 2021). This paper offers a review and analysis of the history and practice of community wealth building (CWB), including its origins in the tumult of the 1960s and ‘70s, how it has evolved over time, and how it has spread from the US to the rest of the world. The authors present some of its institutions and approaches – such as worker owned companies, community land trusts, community development financial institutions, and public ownership – and review their development and how they deliver superior results for workers and communities. Additionally, they discuss the opportunity and challenge of contesting for state resources and support and how, while this is critical to CWB, efforts must be made to embed community control and participation and guard against co-optation and co-dependence. Lastly, the paper addresses how CWB can lead to broader system change.
Opportunity Knocking: Impact capital as the transformative agent to take employee ownership to scale [pdf] (with Jessica Rose, December 2020).
In the wake of COVID-19, this paper argues that impact investors and other capital providers could be the agents to give this crisis a silver lining by catalyzing employee ownership buyouts at scale.
Proposing a bold new approach to growing employee ownership, the the authors make the case for moving beyond “outreach and education” to a capital approach. Organized capital can become the agent for change by becoming “the knock upon the door,” functioning like private equity by simply asking owners if they wish to sell and having the capital available to make it happen, then preparing the company and exiting to employee ownership. The report includes a look at dozen emerging funds taking this approach.
Owning Our Future after COVID-19: A Five Point Plan for US National Economic Reconstruction and Community Transformation [pdf] (with Ted Howard et al, June 2020). This paper proposes a cohesive response to the pandemic crisis in the form of a five-point plan for national economic reconstruction and community transformation: 1) Preserve local community economies by blocking financial extraction and consolidation; 2) Extend public ownership in the public interest; 3) Ground economic reconstruction in a new era of community wealth; 4) Institute a green industrial strategy on the basis of a green stimulus recovery package; 5)Establish a next-generation institute to support the movement for a democratic economy.
Ownership Design for a Sustainable Economy [pdf] (with Sarah Stranahan, January 2020).
In researching the relationship between employee ownership and sustainable practices, we found that employee ownership is not in itself sufficient to guarantee environmental stewardship. The most powerful model combines employee ownership with moral leadership that values sustainability.
Mission-led employee-owned firms: The best of the best [pdf] (with Sarah Stranahan, April 2019). Mission-led employee-owned firms embody a powerful model of enterprise design for a new era of environmental sustainability and social equity. This report shares the story of this emerging model, embodied in 50-plus firms that are employee-owned B Corporations and benefit corporations, plus dozens more employee-owned firms with strong social and ecological missions. These companies offer a distinct alternative to the publicly owned corporation, which was designed for an era of in which large sums of capital were needed to fuel carbon-based industrial enterprises. Now we face new challenges—catastrophic climate change and growing wealth inequality—that demand new solutions. Among those solutions are new models of ownership, or what we are calling next generation enterprise design.
Strategies for Financing the Inclusive Economy [pdf] (with Steve Dubb & Violeta Duncan, August 2016). Designed as a guidebook, this report seeks to demystify the financing of broad-based enterprise, and to show how and where these kinds of enterprises may be well positioned for job-creating growth. It was written with the hope of increasing understanding and comfort levels regarding financing these enterprises among financial service providers, impact investors, foundations, local government, community development leaders, and others. This guidebook forms the third part of a three-volume series, Building the Inclusive Economy, which focuses on the power of broad-based ownership models.
Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development [pdf] (with Steve Dubb & Violeta Duncan, January 2016).
As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.
Cities Building Community Wealth [pdf] (with Sarah McKinley, October 2015). In cities across the nation, a few enjoy rising affluence while many struggle to get by. This situation is created in part by the practices of traditional economic development. Current trends threaten to worsen, unless we can answer the design challenge before us. Can we create an economic system—beginning at the local level—that builds the wealth and prosperity of everyone? This groundbreaking report, profiles a growing movement of municipal governments and organizations uniting to change the paradigm of economic development, truly showing the way forward to build community wealth.
A New Anchor Mission for a New Century [pdf] (with Violeta Duncan, November 2014). It was in 2005 that the highly regarded Monitor Institute report declared that the field of community foundations was “On the Brink of New Promise,” and in the decade since, there have been countless working groups and initiatives to introduce innovative approaches to the field. At the same time, largely beneath the radar, a small but growing group has begun pursuing the innovative path we explore here. Mostly in small steps—but sometimes in larger ways—they are adopting elements of what could emerge as a new anchor mission to deploy all resources to build community wealth.
Enterprise Financing for WealthWorks Value Chains (April 2014).
This report explores lessons learned over two years of helping enterprises in high-poverty rural areas succeed at finding financing. Clearly articulating the challenges involved with “stakeholder financing,” the report looks at a variety of ways to channel necessary capital into the creation of integrated community-sustaining value chains. These ways include crowdfunding, community loan funds, Slow Money, direct public offerings, and others.
The report was published by the Tellus Institute as part of WealthWorks, a seven-year, multi-stakeholder initiative funded by the Ford Foundation to articulate and test a new systems approach to rural development.
Worker Equity in Food and Agriculture: Practices at the 100 largest and most influential U.S. companies (with Christi Electris et al., October 2012). An understanding of the social impact of the food and agriculture industry requires insight into worker equity, a concept that embraces many issues: fair wages, safe working conditions, the right to organize, job security, professional development opportunities, and employee engagement. This report sets out to review the landscape of company practices and policies in worker equity at the 100 largest companies in the food and agriculture industry in the U.S. market. While harmful practices are widespread—and in some ways the industry norm—there are also promising examples of emerging best practices.
Impact Investing for Rural Wealth Creation: Investing for financial returns and community impact (with Jessica Norwood, Emerging ChangeMakers Network, November 2010). How are impact investors being connected with rural enterprise, in ways that develop multiple forms of wealth? This report outlines key features of impact investment and shares examples of successful models. It looks at the entire value chain of investment – investors, intermediaries, investment vehicles, financial returns, community impact – and examines how design innovations at each stage help impact investments to flow and achieve positive outcomes.
Keeping Wealth Local: Shared Ownership and Wealth Control for Rural Communities (with Shanna Ratner, Yellow Wood Associates, November 2009). Resources do not represent community wealth unless communities own and control them. This handbook looks at various kinds of shared ownership, including cooperatives, employee ownership, community land trusts, municipal ownership, local and tribal ownership, mission-controlled ownership, and community covenants and easements. Each section looks at strengths, weaknesses, the range of applications, expertise required, and sources of assistance.
- How Wall Street Co-opted Impact Investing and What We Can Do about It. Nonprofit Quarterly, November 8, 2023.
- Seven Pathways for Transcending “Wealth Supremacy” [pdf], Impact Alpha, October 10, 2023.
- Investors are raking in profits by privatizing water. Everyone else is paying the price, Fast Company, September 11, 2023.
- Challenging wealth supremacy to realize the dream of systemic change, Impact Alpha, September 6, 2023.
- Going Beyond Charity: How Businesses Can Achieve Permanent Sustainability, Yes! Magazine, October 25, 2022.
- The Case for Investing in Employee Ownership, Stanford Social Innovation Review, January 3, 2022.
- These 12 impact funds are catalyzing transitions to employee ownership, Impact Alpha, March 18, 2021.
- World Changing Ideas: Scaling up employee ownership is key to an equitable economic recovery. Fast Company, March 4, 2021.
- The Profit-Maximizing Corporate Model Must Evolve, The Hill, August 19, 2020.
- Local Economy Preservation Funds: A plan to save local businesses and create broad prosperity, Next City, May 13, 2020.
- The End of the Corporation? It’s time to make the profit-maximizing, shareholder-controlled corporation obsolete, Transnational Institute Longreads, March 1, 2020.
- The next big idea, The Fabian Society, November 4, 2019.
- How This Black Entrepreneur Went From Homelessness to Housing Others, Yes! Magazine, July 23, 2019.
- Redesigning Business for a Democratic Economy, ChangeThis, July 16, 2019.
- To Make Companies Moral, Make Employees the Owners. Fast Company, January 11, 2019.
- Employee Ownership Pays Dividends in Rural, Says Private Equity Firm. Daily Yonder, January 29, 2018.
- Democratic Ownership in the USA: A quiet revolution, International Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 15 No. 1/2, March 2019.
- The Hidden Threat of Tax Cuts to Equitable Economic Development, Rooflines, March 29. 2017.
- Community Wealth Building: America’s emerging asset-based approach to city economic development, Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy, 2016.
- Worker Co-ops: Hope in the Desert, Jericho Chambers, November 14, 2016.
- A Powerful, Under-Used Tool for Addressing the Roots of Inequality: Inclusive Ownership, Stanford Social Innovation Review, September 28, 2016.
- Building the Inclusive City: Collaborative approaches to economic development are seeing results, Stanford Social Innovation Review, November 12, 2015.
- 7 Paths to Development That Bring Neighborhoods Wealth, Not Gentrification, Yes! Magazine, November 11, 2015.
- A Wave Is Rising: Community foundations are seeing growing activity in building community wealth, Stanford Social Innovation Review, January 5, 2015.
- Looking towards the next century of community foundations, CSRwire, November 18, 2014.
- ‘The World Has Changed and So Must We,’ Community Foundations Find, CSRwire, November 23, 2014.
- Indian Country the Site of New Developments in Community Wealth Building, Community-Wealth.org, July 7, 2014.
- Living Enterprise as the Foundation of a Generative Economy, in The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014, p. 636).
- Living Enterprise as the Foundation of a Generative Economy, Slow Money Letter, February 19, 2013.
- Journey to a generative economy: Learning about alternative ownership models through Open Source design, e-Organizations & People, Spring 2013, Vol. 20, No. 1
- The Economy: Under New Ownership, Yes! Magazine, February 18, 2013.
- Waking Up to Hope, THERE Journal of Design, Vol. 9, 2013
- The Architecture of Enterprise: Redesigning Ownership for a Great Transition,” The Good Society, Vol. 22, No. 1, July 2013.
- The Architecture of Enterprise: Redesigning Ownership for a Great Transition. The Good Society. Committee on the Political Economy of the Good Society, Penn State University, June 2013.
- Toward a generative economy, openDemocracyUK, May 2013.
- The Architecture of Enterprise, GTI Perspectives on Critical Issues, December 2012.
- Living Enterprise as the Foundation of a Generative Economy in Worldwatch’s State of the World 2012, “Moving toward Sustainable Prosperity,” December 2012.
- CSRwire 5-part blog series on the Generative Economy: Distributed on CSRwire Talkback, July – October, 2012.
- Worker Equity: The Unasked Question for the Global Food Movement, CSRwire Talkback, October 29, 2012.
- Learning to See the Invisible: The Unsung Ownership Revolution, CSRwire Talkback, July 31, 2012 In the first in this blog series, Kelly shares her stories and lessons learned about emerging ownership models. This is the first post in the series.
- Finding Resilience in Crisis: The Benefits of Locally Rooted Banks, CSRwire Talkback, August 28, 2012. Community-based banks weathered the financial storm well – but new international regulations could threaten their existence.
- Unintended Consequences: New Regulations Threaten Community Banks, CSRwire Talkback, September 11, 2012.
- The Pursuit of Employee Happiness: That’s the Purpose of U.K.’s Largest Department Store Chain, CSRwire Talkback, September 26, 2012.
- Redefining Finance: Pathways to a Resilient Future, Tellus Institute, Capital Institute, and Corporation 20/20, August 9, 2012.
- Journeys to the Generative Economy: five models of community ownership, for Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Summer 2012.
- Can There Be “Good” Corporations? YES! Magazine, April 16, 2012.
- Redesign Private Ownership to Create a Truly Generative Economy in Priorities for a new political economy: Memos to the Left. Progressive Governance, Policy Network, Oslo, 2011.
- A Different Kind of Ownership Society, by Marjorie Kelly and Shanna Ratner, Yes! Magazine, August 3, 2010.
- Economic Genesis, Peace & Policy Journal, Vol. 14, 2009.
- Not Just for Profit, strategy+business magazine, Issue 54, Spring 2009.
- Corporate Design: The Missing Organizational and Public Policy Issue of Our Time, by Marjorie Kelly and Allen White, New England Law Review, November 2007.
- Transform Corporate Purpose, Chapter 8 of Strategic Corporate Initiative: Toward a Global Citizens’ Movement to Bring Corporations Back Under Control, Corporate Ethics International, September 2007.
- The Incredibly Unproductive Shareholder, Harvard Business Review, January 2002.
- End Wealth Supremacy Counter Punch, September 15, 2023.
- Is private equity joining—or co-opting—the employee ownership movement?, Fast Company, May 19, 2022.
- Is private equity’s employee ownership plan the real deal, Impact Alpha, May 19, 202w.
- Scaling up employee ownership is key to an equitable economic recovery, Fast Company, March 4, 2021.
- The profit maximizing corporate model must evolve, The Hill, August 19, 2020.
- Employee-owned firms are a vital lab for stakeholder capitalism, Boston Globe, September 10, 2019.
- To make companies moral, make the employees the owners, Fast Company, January 10, 2019.
- Tired of deals like the one proposed with Foxconn? There is a better way, Journal Sentinel, July 31, 2017.
- Powerful, under-used tool for reducing income-inequality: broad-based ownership, The Hill, August 29, 2016.
- Let’s Call Mitt’s Brand of Business What It Is: Extractive Huffington Post, September 7, 2012.
- On the Very Real Possibility of Transformational Change, Tikkun, July/August 2008.
- How Food Riots, Pricey Gas, and Home Foreclosures Point to a Better Future, by Marjorie Kelly and Paul Raskin. Alternet, May 10, 2008.
Musings (Marjorie Kelly’s columns from her time as president of Business Ethics)