Steward ownership

Steward ownership

28 January 2020 Sebastian Jüngel 591 views

Gerald Häfner, the head of the Social Science Section at the Goetheanum, has, in collaboration with others, developed a draft bill on ‹steward ownership› for enterprises.


«Companies, hospitals, schools etc. are often bought up by investors who have nothing to do with their staff or activities and use them merely to enrich themselves,» says Gerald Häfner. More and more entrepreneurs are therefore looking for ways of keeping their firms independent so that they can’t be treated as commodities. «Unfortunately we do not have the necessary legal forms in place yet.»

The law as it is at present sees enterprises as commodities. «But enterprises are social structures that include staff, suppliers and customers. They are not arbitrary commodities,» Gerald Häfner adds. The proposal for the new legal form of «steward ownership» envisages property rights that specify the long-term use of capital for the purposes of the actual enterprise as a social structure. Co-owners and shareholders can bring in and withdraw capital, but the voting rights and profit remain with the enterprise.

Companies such as Zeiss and Bosch have been pioneering this approach and others – such as Alnatura, Ecosia, Sonett, Wala and Weleda – are moving in this direction but have to employ auxiliary measures because the necessary legal forms are not in place.

In 2016, Gerald Häfner and others started developing a proposal for a legal form of «steward ownership» and, following the property conference in 2018, more than thirty enterprises got together in 2019 to found the independent Steward Ownership Foundation in Berlin.


Web sozial.goetheanum.org

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www.stiftung-verantwortungseigentum.de