The researcher and humanist engineer José Luis Montero de Burgos came and went from this vital plane on the same calendar date, 7 September. In addition to innovating in the field of his speciality, forestry, he worked as a professor of humanities and studied in profundity the social problem regarding the capital/labour relationship, approaching it from a scientific perspective.
Shocked by the May ’68 youth riots, he studied the problem of this relationship, focusing particularly on the conception of the current company, to which he attributed multiple deficiencies and questioning the issues of risk, ownership, profit sharing, internal democracy in the company, etc.
His research and investigation in this field led him to create a new business model, which he called the “integrated company” or “humanist company”.
In order to base his construction, Montero de Burgos analyses the current concept of “property”, typical of today’s civilisation, rejecting the power of things, which leads to people having power over other people.
If it is accepted that things cannot be sources of power over people, business power as it is conceived today loses its basis. It is therefore necessary to find another basis for the free creation of enterprises.
What emerges from Montero de Burgos’ research on this subject is the hypothesis that power is based on risk. In this case, in the entrepreneurial risk of the members of the company.
This risk is not only incurred by those who contribute capital, in the event that their investment does not work out, but also by the worker, who loses a great deal if the company fails. They lose not only job stability, but also social and moral stability. In this way, the researcher argues, “the worker also runs the entrepreneurial risk and therefore has the right to manage on his own, because of his own human circumstances, and without the need to buy social shares, as is the case today, to justify his power”.
So, democratising the enterprise is an imperative, which leads to rethinking the relations between capital and work, in the sense that workers must have power in the enterprise. “And this is not demagogy, nor is it an all-out defence of workers: it is simply a demand for social stability and economic development. The common good, in short.
Contrary to the current static proposal, according to which ownership remains eternally in the hands of its owner, Montero de Burgos points out the need to make it more dynamic, progressively transferring and distributing the power of decision from the initial capital contributor to the workers, whose risk, as the years go by, becomes greater.
Thus he points out: “To propose an evolution of ownership, that the land, that the company… tends to belong to those who work on it, and that this is done within a reasonable period of time, is not only a concession to the workers, it is not a utopia, but a requirement with regard to the redistribution of wealth and social stability itself”.
As for the differences with current models, the scholar points out, “the self-managed company is an economic utopia: it expects to receive capital resources, without giving any power to investors. Hence its financing difficulties.
On the other hand, the private company is a social utopia: it expects workers to continue with their initial desire to cooperate, which is present when they have just obtained a job. But these desires are lost after a few months”.
“Between the two utopias,” he stresses, “there is an optimal evolution, the one that achieves the greatest integration between capital and work and is therefore the most productive.”
“All evolutionary enterprises are society-enterprises or humanist enterprises. But this optimal enterprise would be well described as “integrated”.
On the basis of this conception, Montero de Burgos developed the details of his theory in articles and monographs and, from the 1990s onwards, began to give lectures and seminars that inspired various social experiments.
His essays include: “New Business Frontier”, which he presented at the Moscow International Symposium (8, 9 and 10 October 1993), “Bases of a Humanist Economy” at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana in Mexico City (7 and 8 January 1994) and “Humanism in Economics”, at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) in Madrid (8, 9 and 10 July 1997).
The creators of the channel “Good Ideas you may not know” have produced a video about Montero de Burgos and his main ideas.
In the video you can see excerpts from his presentation in Mexico in 1994: Bases of a Humanist Economy.
A comprehensive and systematic explanation in J. L. Montero de Burgos. Humanism in economics
To contact the group that disseminates Montero de Burgos’ ideas on economics: firstname.lastname@example.org
Free download of the book “Empresa y sociedad“.