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

  • Alex Bryson
  • Richard B. Freeman

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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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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  1. Oyer, Paul & Schaefer, Scott, 2005. "Why do some firms give stock options to all employees?: An empirical examination of alternative theories," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 99-133, April.
  2. 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.
  3. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Schupp, Jürgen & Sunde, Uwe & Wagner, Gert Georg, 2006. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 5517, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  5. 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, December.
  6. Bingley, P. & Walker, I., 2000. "Housing Subsidies and Work Incentives in Great Britain," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 559, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  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. 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.
  9. repec:oup:qjecon:v:111:y:1996:i:2:p:507-48 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Gary V. Engelhardt & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2004. "Employee Stock Purchase Plans," NBER Working Papers 10421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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