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Publisher(s) Tanner Couch; World Games
Players 2–6
Setup time 5–10 minutes
Playing time About 3 hours
Random chance Medium (dice rolling, card drawing, luck)
Skill(s) required Simple mathematics such as counting, finding percentages and multiplication, economics, governmental procedure, social skills, negotiation

Poleconomy is a board game invented by New Zealander Bruce E. Hatherley[1] and first published in 1980.[2][3][4] It is similar to Monopoly but the board is divided into companies rather than properties.[3] Players compete to acquire properties and investments through stylized economic and political activity. The playing time is set by agreement from all players, e.g. 2 hours, and the winner is determined by the monetary sum of all player cash, companies, insurance or other assets. The game can also end when there are no more companies, advertisements in the bank or bonds in the treasury. Another objective of the game is "to teach players some of the fundamentals of economics, and the ways in which the economy and the government interact."[5] Different editions were published for several different countries. The name Poleconomy is a portmanteau of "politics" and "economy".[6]


Poleconomy was invented by Bruce Hatherley, a New Zealander from Christchurch who was living in Sydney at the time.[7] He first filed a US patent claim for it in January 1981.[1] It was published in 1980, first in an Australian edition, then a New Zealand edition. The New Zealand edition was produced by Tanner Couch and Robyn Larsen sold the squares on the board as advertising space to the actual companies represented. The New Zealand Stock Exchange was involved with the launch in Auckland.[7] It was also published by World Games.[2]

Hatherley contacted Canadian think tank the Fraser Institute to help introduce the game to Canada in 1983. Michael Walker, an employee of the Institute, sold the first squares as advertising and the rest were sold by stockbrokers, who had little other work because of a recession at the time. More than a million dollars was raised by the Institute and Poleconomy was credited with helping the Institute survive the recession.[5]

It was later sold in South Africa and the United Kingdom in other localised versions.[2][4] More than 1.5 million copies of Poleconomy have been sold internationally, incorporating the participation of 260 major corporate sponsors who leased advertising space in the separate national versions.[8] US patent 4,522,407 was granted for the game in 1985.[1]

The game[edit]

Players compete to acquire properties and investments through stylized economic and political activity. This involves the purchase of real-world companies and advertising using artificial money. The players take turns moving around the board via the roll of the dice, landing on the gameboard squares and carrying out instruction according to the square's contents or player decision.

The game is unusual in its mirroring of real-world businesses for which it has licenses to use their trademarks. It also illustrates how political events such as government decisions and taxation affect the economy. The players take turns at being the Prime Minister or President through elections. Once in power they have the ability to dictate the levels of inflation and so increasing or decreasing rents for property owners. If a player cannot cover their rent, the debt is written off and they can continue, receiving a government salary; no-one becomes bankrupt. According to the rules the game ends when the central bank runs out of money.[3]

Enterprise Australia sponsored the game to "improve understanding of the free enterprise system" among schoolchildren, and sold over 100,000 copies.[9][10] The introduction to the rules of the New Zealand version quotes Enterprise New Zealand, "The game reflects the way industry, finance and government interact when private enterprise operates within a system of parliamentary democracy."[3]

Companies featured in the game[edit]

Australian Edition (1st) New Zealand Edition Canadian Edition
Company Advertising Company Advertising Company Advertising
Boral The Australian DRG Permaglide Crane Pentax
Bradmill Australian Associated Stock Exchanges Mitsubishi Forklifts Sellotape I.P. Sharp Associates Global Television Network
CIG Australia Post Armourguard Pakatoa Island Bombardier Central Trust
Clyde Industries Breville Anchor Nylex [1] Molson Iona
CRA B&D Roll-A-Doors [2] Mount Cook Line Decrabond William Mercer Limited Avco Financial Services
Eric White Associates Dulux Van Camp Amalgamated Marketing Ltd Allied Van Lines Limited Edmonton Oilers
George Pattersons EAC - Estate Agents Cooperative [3] Tux Air New Zealand Penmans Canada Wynn's
H C Sleigh Limited Holden NZ Forest Products Team McMillan Ford Maple Leaf Mills Loblaws Companies Limited
IBM Hoyts Europa Stewart Wrightson Ltd Kaufman Footwear Lepage
ICI Kodak Hallmark Pizza Hut Dynamic Funds Teleglobe Canada
John Sands [4] Lady Scott Hertz Kiwi Bacon Fraser Institute[11] Cheerios
Kinnears [5] Newsweek IBM Dulux Midland Bank Canada Caldwell Luxury Towels
Monier [6] OPSM ICI Marac Kraft Golden
Nylex [7] Pal NZIG Mitre 10 Delta Hotels Actualite Newsmagazine
Olympic [8] Patra Fruit Juices Watties Heylen Research Centre Neilson Texmode Fashion Sheets
Pioneer [9] Reed Stenhouse [10] Whitcoulls Choysa Dow Chemical Canada Scott
STC Seppelt - Great Western [11] Reidrubber Amco Victor
TNT [12] Singapore Airlines Donaghys Hylin Laundry Services CP Air
Union Carbide Skipper a Clipper [13] Lucas Service Ralta IKEA
Wormald [14] Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation Winstone Atlantic and Pacific travel
FAS [15] Southern Pacific Corporation Centra Atlantic and Pacific Safety Esso
Streets Network consultants David Ingram's CENTRA
Trans Australia Airlines GSI
Telecom Australia Go Telex Northern United Building Society
Telecom Australia Phone STD Off-Peak NZSE
Vulcan Heylen Research Centre
New Zealand Times


  1. ^ a b c Hatherley, Bruce E. (11 June 1985). "Financial board game". 
  2. ^ a b c "Poleconomy". TheGames.co.nz. The Games. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  3. ^ a b c d Thomas, Ben; David Young (2 March 2007). "Neo-liberal ideas still dominate political agenda" (fee required). The National Business Review. 
  4. ^ a b Stickels, Georgi (26 September 1994). "A lifetime spent at board level". Business Review Weekly. 16 (37): 67. 
  5. ^ a b Graham, George; et al. Challenging Perceptions: Twenty-five Years of Influential Ideas: The Fraser Institute 1974–1999: A Retrospective (PDF). pp. 23–24. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  6. ^ "Who is Brad Wall?". The Leader-Post. 8 November 2007. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  7. ^ a b Samways, Ana (8 May 2009). "Sideswipe: Under my umberlla (sic)". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  8. ^ "Poleconomy". Tripod.com. 
  9. ^ Sharon Beder (2006). Free market missionaries. London: Earthscan. ISBN 978-1-84407-334-4. 
  10. ^ Carey, Alex. "Taking the Risk out of Democracy", p. 117. University of Illinois Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0-252-06616-0.
  11. ^ Donald E. Abelson. Do think tanks matter?. p. 198. 

External links[edit]