Owning Our Future

Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution

Journeys to a Generative EconomyNAUTILUS SILVER - BEST

Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Buy on Amazon
Buy at Barnes and Noble
Find a local bookseller on IndieBound

Published in three international editions: Korea, Brazil, and UK edition distributed in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and elsewhere.

Winner of the 2013 Nautilus Silver Book Award in the Business/Leadership category.

Finalist for ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year 2012

Read a 30-page excerpt of the book, including the Foreword by David Korten, Prologue, and first chapter.

As long as businesses are set up to focus exclusively on maximizing financial income for the few, our economy will be locked into endless growth and widening inequality. But now people across the world are experimenting with new forms of ownership, which Kelly calls generative: aimed at creating the conditions for all of life to thrive for many generations to come. These designs may hold the key to the deep transformation our civilization needs.

To understand these emerging alternatives, Kelly reports from across the globe, visiting a community-owned wind facility in Massachusetts, a lobster cooperative in Maine, a multibillion-dollar employee-owned department-store chain in London, a foundation-owned pharmaceutical in Denmark, a farmer-owned dairy in Wisconsin, and other places where a hopeful new economy is being built. Along the way, she finds the five essential patterns of ownership design that make these models work.

As financial and ecological crises multiply and linger in our time, many people remain grim adherents of the TINA school of thought: There Is No Alternative to capitalism as we know it. Yet emerging alternative designs show that there is a real and workable alternative, which goes beyond the dusty 19th century categories of capitalism vs. socialism. It’s “yet to be recognized as a single phenomenon because it has yet to have a single name,” Kelly writes. “We might try calling this a family of generative ownership designs. Together they form the foundation for a generative economy” – an economy whose fundamental architecture tends to create beneficial rather than harmful outcomes. A living economy that has a built-in tendency to be socially fair and ecologically sustainable.

Kelly writes: “This is a book about deep change. It’s about hope. It’s about the real possibility that a fundamentally new kind of economy can be built, that this work is further along than we suppose, and that it does deeper than we would dare to dream. It’s about economic change that is fundamental and enduring: not greenwash or all the other false hopes flung in our faces for too long. The experiments I’m talking about are not silver bullets that will solve all our problems. They have flaws and limitations. But they nonetheless represent change that is fundamental and enduring because it involves ownership. That is to say, what’s at work is not the legislative or presidential whims of a particular hour, but a permanent shift in the underlying architecture of economic power.”

Commentary on Owning Our Future

“Owning Our Future is a highly readable single story of two entwined systems: the dying juggernaut of exploitive finance and the mostly unseen hothouse garden where new models of ownership are emerging. Many books about hopeful alternatives inspire cynicism; this one inspires a desire to take part.” — Art Kleiner, editor-in-chief, strategy+business, and author, The Age of Heretics

“This seminal book will be the guidebook for transforming the corporation, and it’s hard to imagine anything more important now.” — James Gustave Speth, professor of law, Vermont Law School, and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council

“Of all the important elements lacking from progressive thought, ownership design is perhaps the most foundational. Kelly nails it in a way that can drive it home to everyone. This is the most thorough and properly nuanced treatment of the subject I’ve seen anywhere. Kelly is a brilliant writer.” — David Korten, author, The Great Turning and When Corporations Rule the World

For more information about the book, download the official Press Release.

Selected Reviews:

Studies Based On Owning Our Future:

  • Life Giving Corporations to Support Community
    A paper and presentation based on the ideas from Marjorie Kelly’s Owning Our Future by Michael Meegan and Michael Prince. Presented at the National Native Title conference in Perth, Australia on June 2-4, 2014.
Upcoming events

Money Talk - Financial Literacy Conference

October 15, 2016, Roxbury Crossing, MA

Marjorie Kelly joins John Barros (Director of Economic Development for Boston), Melvin Miller (Publisher Bay State Banner), and other experts to discuss building community wealth. Specifically, the panel will focus on concrete strategies for Black families to build wealth in Massachusetts.

Vermont Employee Ownership 2017 Conference

June 2, 2017, Burlington, VT

Marjorie Kelly will keynote the annual conference held by the Vermont Employee Ownership Center. Check back soon for more details.

More Events ...


“This magnificent book is a kind of recipe for how civilization might cope with its too-big-to-fail problem. It’s a hardheaded, clear-eyed and therefore completely moving account of what a different world might look like—what it already does look like in enough places that you will emerge from its pages inspired to get involved.” 

Bill McKibben
author,  Deep Economy

“This book is not only brilliant, but also tremendously important. It’s one of those rare books that opens our eyes to the fact that something we’ve taken for granted is actually intrinsically destructive, and can be replaced by alternative, healthier forms of organization. I found it exhilarating.”

Fritjof Capra
physicist, author, The Tao of Physics and The Hidden Connections

“As a serial entrepreneur who’s started three traditional shareholder-owned businesses, I know from experience what’s wrong with that model. The future belongs to the alternative forms of ownership Kelly writes about. This is a book the world desperately needs.”

Jeffrey Hollender
co-founder and former CEO Seventh Generation