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Collective Choice and Control Rights in Firms

  • Gregory K. Dow

    (Simon Fraser University)

  • Gilbert L. Skillman

    (Wesleyan University)

Recent writers have asserted that firms controlled by workers are rare because workers have diverse preferences over firm policies, and thus suffer from high transaction costs in making collective decisions. This is contrasted with firms controlled by investors, who all support the goal of wealth maximization. However, the source of the asymmetry between capital and labor has not been clearly identified. For example, firms could attract labor inputs by selling transferable shares, and well-known unanimity theorems from the finance literature carry over to models of this kind. We resolve this puzzle by arguing that because financial capital is exceptionally mobile, capital markets are sufficiently competitive to induce unanimity. The lower mobility of human capital implies that labor markets are monopolistically competitive and hence that unanimity cannot be expected in labor-managed firms. Moreover, such firms are vulnerable to takeover by investors while capital-managed firms are substantially less vulnerable to takeover by workers.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/mic/papers/0509/0509003.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Microeconomics with number 0509003.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 09 Sep 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0509003
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 25. 25 page pdf file including title page and 3 pages of references; no graphs or tables
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Kramer, Gerald H, 1973. "On a Class of Equilibrium Conditions for Majority Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(2), pages 285-97, March.
  2. Chris Doucouliagos, 1995. "Worker Participation and Productivity in Labor-Managed and Participatory Capitalist Firms: A Meta-Analysis," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 49(1), pages 58-77, October.
  3. Gregory Dow, 1996. "Replicating Walrasian equilibria using markets for membership in labor-managed firms," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 147-162, December.
  4. Michael Magill & Martine Quinzii, 2002. "Theory of Incomplete Markets, Volume 1," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262632543, June.
  5. Hart, Oliver D, 1979. "On Shareholder Unanimity in Large Stock Market Economies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1057-83, September.
  6. Sadanand, Asha B & Williamson, John M, 1991. "Equilibrium in a Stock Market Economy with Shareholder Voting," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(1), pages 1-35, February.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521818537 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Hart, Oliver D, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition in a Large Economy with Differentiated Commodities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 1-30, January.
  9. Dreze, Jacques H & Hagen, Kare P, 1978. "Choice of Product Quality: Equilibrium and Efficiency," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(3), pages 493-513, May.
  10. McKelvey, Richard D, 1979. "General Conditions for Global Intransitivities in Formal Voting Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1085-1112, September.
  11. Dow, Gregory K., 1986. "Control rights, competitive markets, and the labor management debate," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 48-61, March.
  12. Makowski, Louis, 1983. "Competitive Stock Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 305-30, April.
  13. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521522212 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Makowski, Louis & Pepall, Lynne, 1985. " Easy Proofs of Unanimity and Optimality without Spanning: A Pedagogical Note," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1245-50, September.
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