This comment – a contribution to a project on “democratizing finance” – considers the relative advantages of alternative enterprise forms from the point of view of public accountability. It compares the business corporation to the state agency or authority, the cooperative, the state corporation, and the charitable nonprofit. These forms can be distinguished in terms of whether they aspire to enhance general electoral democracy or stakeholder democracy and in terms of whether their democratic controls operate directly or indirectly. I suggest that the more indirect democratic forms may be more promising than the more direct ones. I also argue that the project of democratizing finance depends on the development of practices of multi-factor or “dialogic” performance assessment. These practices need to be institutionalized through public or private organizations that extend across firms.
William H. Simon,
Economic Democracy and Enterprise Form in Finance,
Democratizing Finance, Fred Block & Robert Hockett, Eds., forthcoming; Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-607
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/2307