Background

Today, we often witness powerful foreign investors take over companies. These absentee-owners don’t understand what it means when employees quit or the impact their return-on-equity targets have on people and the environment. They don’t feel responsible when local management pushes legal limits in pursuit of corporate objectives. The sale of medium-sized companies to financial investors from other countries isn’t problematic because they’re not domestic investors. It’s worrisome because owner-managed, family-owned businesses, suddenly become „de-owned“ and remotely operated by foreign-owners.

With dramatic consequences for employees, corporate culture, the environment and our entire market economy. While in times of financial crisis, owner-managed companies typically keep employees longer, investor-driven companies and quarterly-dependant managers of publicly traded companies behave differently. But the consequences within a company are only one part of the problem. From an economic perspective, the disappearance of real owners or proprietary owners is a dangerous phenomenon: more and more small businesses are being bought up by large corporations. The US alone has lost half of its self-employed businesses in the last 20 years. The economy has reached a historic degree of centralization that undermines the foundation of its own success: a diverse, decentralized market economy. How do companies fare if they are not sold, but are passed on to capable and value-related people? What if property was understood and legally designed as a task and an office rather than as an investment?

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