Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place / Edition 2

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Overview

Part memoir and part examination of a new business model, the 2005 release of The Company We Keep marked the debut of an important new voice in the literature of American business. Now, in Companies We Keep, the revised and expanded edition of his 2005 work, John Abrams further develops his idea that companies flourish when they become centers of interdependence, or “communities of enterprise.”

Thoroughly revised with an expanded focus on employee ownership and workplace democracy, Companies We Keep celebrates the idea that when employees share in the rewards as well as the responsibility for the decisions they make, better decisions result. This is an especially timely topic. Most of the baby boomer generation—the owners of millions of American businesses— will retire within the next two decades. In 2001, 50,000 businesses changed hands. In 2005, that number rose to 350,000. Projections call for 750,000 ownership transitions in 2009. Employee ownership—in both the philosophical and the practical sense—is gathering steam as businesses change hands, and Abrams examines some of the many ways this is done.

Companies We Keep is structured around eight principles—from “Sharing Ownership” and “Cultivating Workplace Democracy” to “Thinking Like Cathedral Builders” and “Committing to the Business of Place”—that Abrams has discovered in the 32 years since he cofounded South Mountain Company on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Together, these principles reveal communities of enterprise as a potent force of change that can—and will— improve the way Americans do business.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"John Abrams tells a wonderful story, full of ideas about our society. We all need the South Mountain Company--and its human lessons."--Anthony Lewis, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner

Library Journal

In Abrams's The Company We Keep(2005), he wrote about his residential building and design company, South Mountain, and of his efforts to grow gradually and sustainably. In that book as well as this revised and expanded edition, Abrams presents a chapter on each of the eight "cornerstone principles" of sustainable businesses, including sharing ownership, cultivating workplace democracy, and celebrating the spirit of craft. In the new edition, he expands his vision beyond his own company (with its somewhat unusual Martha's Vineyard location) to companies across the United States. His conversational style and instructive anecdotes paint a rosy picture of employee ownership, but he also cautions that a company's transition away from reliance on a single leader can take many years. The overall message is positive, emphasizing local development and "challenging the gospel of growth." Appendixes provide South Mountain's employee-ownership contract, tips and resources to support a company's transition to employee ownership, and a guide to mediation and discussion; a reading list suggests books that Abrams says "changed the way [he] think[s]." For all libraries.
—Heidi Senior

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603580007
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/8/2008
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 333
  • Sales rank: 1,009,082
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John Abrams is co-founder and president of South Mountain Company, a design/build and renewable energy company on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. In 1987, South Mountain Company was restructured to become employee-owned, and so began the adventure that led Abrams to write his first book, The Company We Keep: Reinventing Small Business for People, Community, and Place. With added experience and research, Abrams has revised the book, renamed Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place, so that it can better serve as a primer for employee-ownership. In 2005 Business Ethics magazine awarded South Mountain its National Award for Workplace Democracy.

William Greider is the national affairs correspondent for The Nation and the author of a number of best-selling books including The Soul of Capitalism.

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Table of Contents

1. Cornerstones
2. Sharing ownership
3. Cultivating workplace democracy
4. Challenging the gospel of growth
5. Balancing multiple bottom lines
6. Celebrating the spirit of craft
7. Practicing community entrepreneurism
8. Thinking like cathedral builders
9. Committing to the business of place
10. A company to keep

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