Human beings show a broad spectrum of qualities, but it is the worst of these that are usually emphasised, and the result, too often, is to dishearten us, diminish our spirit.” – Howard Zinni

In a recent OpenDemocracy piece, I argued that the way we're living now - over-worked, over-consuming, environmentally-destructive, indebted, isolated and unhappy - has a strong relationship with the models of ownership and decision-making in our institutions.

Why, and what can we do?


Privatisation is associated with valuing power

Power values are associated with lower levels of empathy and concern for others and the environment. Being in positions of power seems to make people prioritise associated values more, because research has shown they act in more Machiavellian ways; drive more aggressively; and are even more likely to steal sweets from children.

Prioritising power is also linked to hierarchy and inequality, which can lead to anxiety and less cooperative behaviour within organisations.

Democratic ownership can encourages us to make better decisions

The experience of shared ownership and democratic processes seems to engage our more people-centric (rather than self-centric) values.

Research using resource management games, for example, has shown that we are more likely to work in the group interests, have resources left for future generations, and act altruistically to others following democratic decision-making.

The sense of self-worth and autonomy promoted in shared ownership models can also engage with our self-direction and openness-to-change values, which are associated with comfort with risk and uncertainty, and creativity - exactly the skills we'll need in an uncertain environmental and political future.

Read the whole article here.