Assemblany: Towards Democratic Corporations

Saturday, January 21, 2006

So what is an Assemblany?

Q: So what is an assemblany?

A: The dictionary will say:
assemblany (n.): company governed by decisions made by (possibly virtual) assemblies of all employees (and/or stakeholders). see also "consensism". also known as "parliamentary corporation", "participatory co-operative".

Q: How does this differ from current co-operatives?

A: While all workers have a share in a co-operative, and thus (at least theoretically) a say in decisions, this may only occur at annual general meetings. Between times, decisions are taken by an executive committee or a board - senior management - whatever. Similarly it's difficult for the workers to set the agenda.

In an assemblany, company-wide decisions are voted on by all workers/stakeholders. Similarly all workers/stakeholders can make proposals for the actions that the assemblany shall take and the rules that shall be followed.

An assemblany would typically be a co-operative (and could also be a consensism).

Q: How can this possibly work?

A: How do parliaments work? They follow rules that they agree on and have rules to allow them to change the rules.

On a smaller scale, many games of Nomic (as defined here, with many examples here) have been successfully run. Any assemblany would probably start with rules ("seed rules") based on, or very similar to, Nomic (which is close to the minimal set of rules allowing self-modification).

The proposing and voting could take place either at weekly face-to-face meetings (if the assemblany is geographically compact so that this is feasible) or electronically via mailing lists, Web fora etc.

Q: Why do you think this would work?

A: Why do parliaments work? Because everyone has a say and is thus deeply involved and committed. An assemblany should be more focussed and also more fun to work in than a traditional company.

Q: What are the key values of a typical assemblany?

A: Transparency, integrity, and flexibility to extreme levels.


(Note: my apologies if I misrepresent co-operatives; I don't have inside knowledge of them. I'm trying to spark new ideas here, not debate the workings of existing organisations.)

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