Common property: uncommon forms of prosocial organizing

23 Feb 2018

As Adam Smith memorably observed, commerce is replete with positive externalities (Smith, 1776). Much good comes to societies in which profit-seeking entrepreneurship flourishes, including gainful employment and the generation of income for expenditure on life’s necessities and luxury goods and services. Alas, the externalities are not always positive and individuals, groups and societies also suffer from the negative externalities of commerce. Lately there has been heightened concern that left to its own self-interested devices, commerce is responsible for increasing social and environmental harm. Porter and Kramer (2011) remark that “business increasingly has been viewed as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems. Companies are widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community” (p. 62).