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ResPublica announces Arup and John Lewis Partnership as lead partners for forthcoming ‘ownership’ conference

4th July 2013

  • ResPublica

Arup and John Lewis Partnership to partner with ResPublica on 'thought leaders' conference, Autumn 2013

ResPublica is pleased to announce that Arup and John Lewis Partnership will be the lead partners for ResPublica’s forthcoming ‘thought leaders’ conference, “Ownership in the 21st Century”, due to take place in Autumn 2013. Additional opportunities to partner with ResPublica on the conference and surrounding activity are still open for third party organisations.

Many of the UK’s contemporary economic issues can be traced to a crisis of ownership. All too often, corporate managers seeking immediate return for reasons of financial gain and personal aggrandisement have combined with often passive and transient shareholders to instil a culture of short-termism in much of the modern economy’s ‘commanding heights’. In parallel with this, the increasing prevalence of employment insecurity, loss of the notion of a ‘job for life’, and the development of career patterns that see individuals work for many organisations across different vocations, has reduced the stake employees have in the long-term success of their company.

The ‘plc’ model has proven to be a valuable one, but its domination has artificially and needlessly limited the horizons of UK enterprise. Established and emerging mutuals, employee-owned businesses and co-operative models offer a template to restore an element of wider ownership and long-term thinking that will both assist in the economic recovery and secure long-term international competitiveness. In addition to new business models, there are also new business practices that could and should be employed in our small business sector to extend success and market share.

Building on the success of ResPublica’s Making it Mutual essay collection, and in the context of the Government’s support for employee-owned businesses and public service mutuals, this conference will look to wider economic policy to explore how existing, emerging and new ownership models can become central actors within the diverse market needed to stimulate economic growth, greater innovation and good practice. The primary aim of the conference will be to identify the policy innovations surrounding ownership and stakeholding needed for the success of the UK’s economy, and as a consequence set out a series of radical ideas to transform the nature of the economy itself.

The conference will hear from leading politicians, policy makers, academics and practitioners, and will set out a series of policy innovations, new challenges and fresh opportunities to engender greater and more widespread ownership, competition and long-term investment that ought to characterise the UK’s economy in the 21st Century. As the countdown to the next election begins, the conference will explore the possibility for a new economic settlement.

Alden Whittaker-Brown, Head of the Group Executive Office at Arup, said:

“From global PLCs to sole-trader start-ups and Limited Liability Partnerships to Community Interest Companies, there are many legal and governance forms that companies can adopt. While Arup has grown and developed in scale and reputation as an employee owned business, our form does not suit all circumstances. Arup welcomes the escalating public debate and government focus on the diversification and appropriateness of business form and we hope that this conference will contribute to the opportunity to improve Britain’s commercial landscape.”

Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said:

“In the UK we lack the plural mix of ownership that has come to characterise the markets of other countries, so we have to ask ourselves whether the conditions are in place to encourage those forms of ownership, to unleash a new generation of employee owned businesses; at present there are some serious imbalances, which do” exactly the opposite. And this is why the sector is so delighted that the Government has recognised the need for change.”

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