Articles and Reports

Trained initially as a business journalist, Marjorie Kelly regularly authors reports, magazine articles, and op-eds about ownership design, economic transformation, and corporate responsibility. Below are a sampling of writings.

Community wealth building: America’s emerging assetbased approach to city economic development

Published by Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy. By Marjorie Kelly and Sarah McKinley. 2016.

This article, co-authored by Democracy Collaborative Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly and Manager of Community Development Programs Sarah McKinley, illustrates the trend sweeping the United States, as a growing number of communities are experimenting with innovative ways to create a more equal, democratic, and community-based economy from the ground up. In the piece, Kelly and McKinley describe how we can use a “politics of place” and “politics for places” to uplift communities across the country and world.

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Building the Inclusive City: Collaborative approaches to economic development are seeing results.

Published by Stanford Social Innovation Review. By Marjorie Kelly. Nov. 13, 2015.

The Stanford Social Innovation Review features the Democracy Collaborative report Cities Building Community Wealth, emphasizing that the innovative collaborative approaches to economic development highlighted by author Marjorie Kelly are truly seeing results.

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7 Paths to Development That Bring Neighborhoods Wealth, Not Gentrification

Published by Yes! Magazine. By Marjorie Kelly and Sarah McKinley. Nov. 11, 2015.

YES! Magazine talks to Marjorie Kelly about the seven drivers cities can use to develop economies that build community wealth detailed in our report, Cities Building Community Wealth.

Enterprise Financing for WealthWorks Value Chains

Published by The Tellus Institute. By Marjorie Kelly. April 2014.

This new report, authored by Democracy Collaborative Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly, explores lessons learned over two years of helping enterprises in high-poverty rural areas succeed at finding financing. Clearly articulating the challenges involved with “stakeholder financing,” the report looks at a variety of ways to channel necessary capital into the creation of integrated community-sustaining value chains. These ways include crowdfunding, community loan funds, Slow Money, direct public offerings, and others.

The report was published by the Tellus Institute as part of WealthWorks, a seven-year, multi-stakeholder initiative funded by the Ford Foundation to articulate and test a new systems approach to rural development.


Journey to a generative economy

Learning about alternative ownership models through Open Source design

e-Organisations & People, Spring 2013, Vol. 20, No. 1

Marjorie Kelly holds out the prospect of a radically different way of doing business in Journey to a generative economy. In contrast to outmoded forms of extractive ownership, which are essentially exploitative and ultimately impoverishing, Marjorie identifies an innovative form of generative ownership that brings both economic and social benefit. As an example of the latter, she draws upon the mutually beneficial relationship between Coastal Enterprises Inc and the Maine lobster industry in the USA to make her case.


The Economy: Under New Ownership

Cover Story in YES! Magazine by Marjorie Kelly. February 19, 2013.
How cooperatives are leading the way to empowered workers and healthy communities.


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The Architecture of Enterprise

GTI Perspectives On Critical Issues. By Marjorie Kelly, December, 2012

A growing array of alternative ownership designs point to a fundamentally different kind of economy, where basic social architectures – the architectures of ownership – are designed to be life-supporting. This kind of economy may be more likely to create fair and just outcomes, to benefit the many rather than the few, and to enable an enduring human presence on a flourishing earth. Emerging ownership models represent the potential foundation for such an economy. They embody an emerging archetype that has yet to be recognized as a single phenomenon with a single name. This archetype provides an alternative to the dominant ownership archetype of today, which can be called “extractive,” for it aims at extracting maximum amounts of financial wealth. The emerging family of ownership designs can be called “generative,” for their aim is to generate the conditions for our common life to flourish. See the full GTI Perspectives series.


Worker Equity in Food and Agriculture: Practices at the 100 Largest and Most Influential U.S. Companies

Published by Tellus Institute and Sustainalytics. By Marjorie Kelly, Heather Lang, Christi Electris, Gurneesh Bhandal,  October, 2012

The rise of the global food movement has brought significant innovation in areas such as organic foods, farmers’ markets, community agriculture, urban gardens, and Slow Food. Yet the food movement has a blind spot — worker welfare. Despite what may be commonly assumed, food that is sustainable, organic, or locally grown, is often produced under highly inequitable working conditions, locally and globally. There has been an overarching tendency in the food movement to prioritize health concerns, environmental impact, and animal welfare over worker health and well-being. This report sets out to review the landscape of company practices and policies in worker equity at the 100 largest companies in the food and agriculture industry in the U.S. market. While harmful practices are widespread – and in some ways the industry norm – there are also promising examples of emerging best practices. This report attempts to address both trouble spots and best practices. The latter are highlighted here as precedents that other companies might follow, and as an indication of potential avenues for impact and influence. The slides from Tellus Institute and Sustainalytics’ webinar presentation on November 13, 2012 are available here.

Download Press releaseExecutive SummaryFull report.


Redesign Private Ownership to Create a Truly Generative Economy

Memo in “Priorities for a new political economy: Memos to the Left.” Progressive Governance, Policy Network, Oslo, 2011

This brief memo-style piece was prepared for the Corporate Governance conference of political leaders convened in Oslo, May 2011, by the Norwegian Prime Minister. It discusses the problem of “financialization” – the swelling of financial claims and dominance of finance in politics – and looks at how this process arises naturally from today’s dominant ownership design. That ownership design can be called “extractive,” for it is aimed at maximum financial extraction. There is another way to design ownership that is already here and working. It can be called “generative,” for it’s about ownership designs aimed at creating the conditions for life. Achieving a generative economy starts with recognising a new role for the state not simply as regulator but as designer of the economy. A core strategy for promoting the movement into alternative ownership designs is to create a pincer movement – one arm aimed at reforming corporate governance in existing large companies, another aimed at developing generative alternatives.


Impact Investing for Rural Wealth Creation: Investing for financial returns and community impact

By Marjorie Kelly, Tellus Institute, with Jessica Norwood, Emerging ChangeMakers Network, November 2010

How are impact investors being connected with rural enterprise, in ways that develop multiple forms of wealth? This report outlines key features of impact investment and shares examples of successful models. It looks at the entire value chain of investment – investors, intermediaries, investment vehicles, financial returns, community impact – and examines how design innovations at each stage help impact investments to flow and achieve positive outcomes.


A Different Kind of Ownership Society

By Marjorie Kelly and Shanna Ratner, Yes! Magazine website, August 3, 2010

Innovative strategies for cooperative local ownership make it possible for prosperity to be shared as well as sustainable


Economic Genesis

Peace & Policy Journal, Vol. 14, 2009

The evolution of a sustainable economy through values-based social architecture. As we transition to a sustainable economy, much attention is on physical technologies such as renewable energy. But equally important are social technologies, which are about organizational design.

Keeping Wealth Local: Shared Ownership and Wealth Control for Rural Communities

By Marjorie Kelly, Tellus Institute, and Shanna Ratner, Yellow Wood Associates, November 2009

Resources do not represent community wealth unless communities own and control them. This handbook looks at various kinds of shared ownership, including cooperatives, employee ownership, community land trusts, municipal ownership, local and tribal ownership, mission-controlled ownership, and community covenants and easements. Each section looks at strengths, weaknesses, the range of applications, expertise required, and sources of assistance.

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Not Just for Profit

Strategy+Business, Spring 2009

Explores emerging alternatives to the shareholder-centric corporate model, exploring how new enterprise designs can help companies avoid ethical mishaps and contribute more to the world at large. Emerging models include stakeholder-owned companies such as cooperatives and employee-owned firms; mission-controlled companies, such as the foundation-owned companies common in northern Europe, like the multinational Novo Nordisk; and public-private hybrids, such as Grameen Danone and

Not Just For Profit

On the Very Real Possibility of Transformational Change.

Tikkun, July/August 2008

A hopeful letter to the next generation, about what might lie ahead, the other side of calamity. It is the utter collapse of civilized life as we know it? Or might it be transformation of the most profound and hopeful kind?


How Food Riots, Pricey Gas, and Home Foreclosures Point to a Better Future.

By Marjorie Kelly and Paul Raskin, Alternet, May 10, 2008

This opinion piece, co-authored with the president of Tellus Institute, argues that the systemic global crisis we confront today could open the way to hopeful transformation.


Transform Corporate Purpose

Chapter 8 in the report,Strategic Corporate Initiative: Toward a Global Citizens’ Movement to Bring Corporations Back Under Control,” September 2007 from Corporate Ethics International

September 2007 from Corporate Ethics International. With tectonic stresses building beneath the surface of society – from global warming to income inequality – this report looks to root causes, defines a vision for 20 years in the future, and seeks to outline a multi-branch approach to transformation.


Corporate Design: The Missing Organizational and Public Policy Issue of Our Time

By Marjorie Kelly and Allen White, New England Law Review, November 2007

How can corporations be designed so as to blend social, environmental, and financial mission at their very core? This is the design challenge of the 21st century.



"Mission-controlled companies like Interface and the New York Times manage to be publicly traded while keeping control in mission-oriented hands. Mission control allows capital to trade freely, even as it ensures that the mission is not for sale."
From Not Just for Profit
Strategy and Business, Spring 2009
"We're experiencing today a system event operating at the scale of the planet. We are on the threshold of a passage likely to prove as significant as the advent of agriculture and the dawn of the Industrial Revolution."
From Economic Genesis
Peace & Policy Journal, Vol. 14, 2009
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.

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