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Motivating Employee-Owners in ESOP Firms: Human Resource Policies and Company Performance

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Listed:
  • Douglas Kruse
  • Richard Freeman
  • Joseph Blasi
  • Robert Buchele
  • Adria Scharf
  • Loren Rodgers
  • Chris Mackin

Abstract

What enables some employee ownership firms to overcome the free rider problem and motivate employees to improve performance? This study analyzes the role of human resource policies in the performance of employee ownership companies, using employee survey data from 14 companies and a national sample of employee-owners. Between-firm comparisons of 11 ESOP firms show that an index of human resource policies, nominally controlled by management, is positively related to employee reports of co-worker performance and other good workplace outcomes (including perceptions of fairness, good supervision, and worker input and influence). Within-firm comparisons in three ESOP firms, and exploratory results from a national survey, show that employee-owners who participate in employee involvement committees are more likely to exert peer pressure on shirking co-workers. We conclude that an understanding of how and when employee ownership works successfully requires a three-pronged analysis of: 1) the incentives that ownership gives; 2) the participative mechanisms available to workers to act on those incentives; and 3) the corporate culture that battles against tendencies to free ride.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas Kruse & Richard Freeman & Joseph Blasi & Robert Buchele & Adria Scharf & Loren Rodgers & Chris Mackin, 2003. "Motivating Employee-Owners in ESOP Firms: Human Resource Policies and Company Performance," NBER Working Papers 10177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10177
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Craig, Ben & Pencavel, John, 1992. "The Behavior of Worker Cooperatives: The Plywood Companies of the Pacific Northwest," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1083-1105, December.
    2. Martin Conyon & Richard B. Freeman, 2004. "Shared Modes of Compensation and Firm Performance U.K. Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 109-146 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Douglas L. Kruse, 1993. "Profit Sharing: Does It Make a Difference?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number ps, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Erika Harden & Douglas L. Kruse & Joseph R. Blasi, 2008. "Who Has a Better Idea? Innovation, Shared Capitalism, and HR Policies," NBER Working Papers 14234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Fabling, Richard & Grimes, Arthur, 2007. "HR Practices and Firm Performance: What Matters and Who Does It?," Occasional Papers 07/2, Ministry of Economic Development, New Zealand.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J54 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Producer Cooperatives; Labor Managed Firms

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