Abstract: To fit industry to human needs: The Scott Bader Commonwealth and the Creation of an ''Industrial Common Ownership Movement'' in Britain

Anne Sudrow


In 1951, the British entrepreneur and chemical manufacturer Ernest Bader ''collectivized'' the ownership of his private enterprise by transferring the property and control of his company to his employees via a registered charity. His aim was ''to organise ... a maximum sense of freedom, happiness and human dignity in our firm''—yet ''without loss of profitability.'' With a written constitution and later a ''code of practice,'' he and his new partners set high ethical standards for the future collective management of the business. They strongly reflected Bader's religious beliefs as a Quaker, a democrat, and a radical pacifist. This paper asks how the balancing of economic tasks with the social and political aims of the enterprise took place in practice, in the daily routines of economic and social activity. What problems did the workers and managers encounter? And how did Scott Bader as a model for worker ownership influence the creation of an ''industrial common ownership movement'' in Britain?