Collaboratism: Human-Centered Commerce

I believe capitalism must be improved upon.  A new system can transcend and include capitalism.  I call this new system Collaboratism.  Here’s how it stacks up against capitalism.



Profits first People first
Competition over collaboration Collaboration over competition
Outputs over outcomes Outcomes over outputs
Constant growth Constant balance
Resource consumption Resource maximization
Focus on wealth Focus on wellness
Earning income Providing service


In a recent public talk, I proposed that American culture is on the precipice of an economic evolution that will transcend and include capitalism.  I asked the audience to imagine an economy based in human-centered commerce where outcomes are preferred over outputs and people are considered before profits.

My stance that we can improve and transcend capitalism is usually well received, but folks who are on vigilant guard against anything that sounds like socialism can get confused by the language.  Collaboratism is not socialism.  It is not based on social ownership.  It continues to leverage the private ownership of capitalism, but rewards owners with economic profits who best provide for human outcomes.  Those that do good, do well.

“People need jobs to make money and businesses create those jobs in pursuit of profit,” said one conservative fellow at my talk. This same guy would have argued in the 12th century that the serfs are unable to care for themselves without the charity of the noble class.  And yet feudalism was transcended by mercantilism which was further transcended by capitalism.  Economic systems do evolve and arguably to the betterment of society.

Capitalism has run its course.  While it has provided great benefits, including the luxury to reflect on how it can be transcended, capitalism’s doctrine of constant growth fueled by resource consumption is causing systemic problems.  Big issues like poverty, healthcare, and resource depletion, can be vastly improved by evolving our economic system. Much of those problems are caused by capitalism itself.

Capitalism has reached a critical mass and is about to implode on itself.  But we can avoid that impending crisis by taking some simple steps to transform capitalism right now.  As a start, we as consumers can vote with our dollars by supporting companies that show they are as interested in people as they are profits.  Equally, companies that put profits ahead of people should not get our attention or money.  This what my friend Salah Boukadoum calls ‘impact shopping’.

I’ll be detailing more simple steps that both individuals and businesses can take to usher in the age of Collaboratism in my upcoming book, ‘The Good Economy’ and in future blog posts.




  • Kelly

    Hello Steve,

    Before I comment I want you to know that i am one of your biggest fans. Having said that, the issue of consumerism goes both ways. As an owner of a business, I can honestly say that employee loyalty is at an all time low.

    I would pay my employees before I would pay myself…my employees would leave without an hesitation. (I am speaking from experience) Unfortunatly that puts owners in a bind. It almost gets to the point of self-preservation.

    So I would propose that collabortism include “all” humans…not just companies. Most of the comments you made above about “captialism” could be filled in with “employees” and be just as valid. I understand what your saying…I just feel its a little one sided.

    • Steve Frazee

      Thanks for posting Kelly.

      You’ve got it right. Collaboratism is about all of us working together to create The Good Economy.

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  • nick

    I think you will need to address the difference and implications between capitalism, where an actual person owns capital, and corporatism, where a corporate “person” owns the capital and is required by law to put profits above all else. Many of the market flaws of capitalism were addressed by regulation, but the collaboration of corporations with politics and the “revolving door” associated with Washington has lead to the implementation of deeply flawed neo-conservatist economic policies that de-regulate markets and re-energize inherent market flaws and promote externalisation. The current corporate charter is directly at odds with the public good and will need to be highly revised in order to allow collaboratism to prosper in a competitive market. Collaboratism will need to address the problem of aggressive opportunism (cheating) as a primary concern, much like all primarily co-operative endeavours. I wait eagerly for your book 🙂

  • Kenneth R Evans

    Some really interesting ideas. Another transformation I’m seeing is in the arena of self-sustaining not for profit companies.. That is, NFPs that sell services or products to maintain their operations, but which pursue societal good rather than shareholder profits.

  • Nicolas

    Let’s talk about praxis.