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To join or not to join? Factors influencing employee share plan membership in a multinational corporation

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  • Alex Bryson
  • Richard B. Freeman

Abstract

Many firms encourage employees to own company stock through share plans that subsidizethe price at favorable rates, but even so many employees do not buy shares. Using a newsurvey of employees in a multinational with a share ownership plan, we find considerablevariation in joining among observationally equivalent workers and explore the reasons for thevariation. Participation in the plan is higher the greater the potential pay-off from joining theshare plan, which indicates that rational economic calculations affect the decision to join. Butthere is also evidence that psychological factors affect the decision to join. Some nonmemberssay they intend to join in the future, which means they forgo the benefits ofimmediate membership. The proportion of workers who purchase shares varies acrossworkplaces beyond what we predict from worker characteristics. This suggests that coworkerbehavior influences decisions. Indeed, workers say that they pay most attention toother workers and little attention to company HR management in their decision on joining.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/48915/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 48915.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:48915

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Related research

Keywords: share plans; share contributions; risk aversion; peer effects; social norms;

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References

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  1. Douglas L. Kruse & Richard B. Freeman & Joseph R. Blasi, 2010. "Shared Capitalism at Work: Employee Ownership, Profit and Gain Sharing, and Broad-based Stock Options," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number krus08-1, July.
  2. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 1730, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Oyer, Paul & Schaefer, Scott, 2004. "Why Do Some Firms Give Stock Options To All Employees?: An Empirical Examination of Alternative Theories," Research Papers 1772r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  4. Bingley, Paul & Walker, Ian, 2001. "Housing Subsidies and Work Incentives in Great Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(471), pages C86-103, May.
  5. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. Engelhardt, Gary V. & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2004. "Employee Stock Purchase Plans," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 57(2), pages 385-406, June.
  7. Duflo, Esther & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "Participation and investment decisions in a retirement plan: the influence of colleagues' choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 121-148, July.
  8. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John W. Budd, 2010. "Does Employee Ignorance Undermine Shared Capitalism?," NBER Chapters, in: Shared Capitalism at Work: Employee Ownership, Profit and Gain Sharing, and Broad-based Stock Options, pages 291-316 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
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