Foundation Research

Research is central to the Foundation’s mission. Over our nearly three decades of existence, we have been the nation’s leading sponsor of data collection and research programs on employee ownership, funding millions of dollars in survey data collection, analysis, fellowships, and academic inquiry.

Research based insights and innovation

For those who work there, employee owned companies generate a positive feeling that is so powerful it is difficult to put into words. But policy makers, legislators, the media, and businesses considering employee ownership can’t rely on the feelings of others. They need more than words. They need numbers, facts, and rigorous analysis.

That is where the Employee Ownership Foundation comes in. We fund the collection of data, its independent analysis, and then use this powerful evidence to convey the value of employee ownership to policy makers, businesses, and the media. Our purpose is to ensure the value and benefits of employee ownership do not get overlooked in the world of politics, news, and business. Scroll down to see the results of our work.

Program Research

Employee Training

While gaining an ownership stake in one’s place of employment is an obvious benefit, research is showing that employee owned companies also invest in their employees through training at a much higher rate than other businesses. Workers, especially the rising millennial generation, consistently cite job training and skills development as a key driver for job satisfaction and longevity in a position.

Program Research

Americans Want to Work for Employee Owned Companies

For nearly the last decade, the Employee Ownership Foundation has provided the funding necessary to collect data regarding employee ownership as part of the General Social Survey (GSS). This survey, and the data it produces, is considered the gold-standard for data used by academic researchers interested in studying the American population. The data is openly available and has subsequently been used by academics to better understand Americans’ attitudes toward employee ownership and the impact it has on their lives. This new report published by Dr. Joseph Blasi and Dr. Doug Kruse of Rutgers University analyzed the newest release of GSS data and observed the overwhelming and uniquely bi-partisan support for employee ownership across all demographics and citizen profiles.

Program Research

Employee-Owned Firms in the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the midst of the pandemic, companies that are owned by their employees are dramatically outperforming other firms in such key areas as securing employees’ jobs, and maintaining work hours, salary, and workplace health and safety. Those are the findings of a new study conducted by Rutgers University and SSRS, and funded by the Employee Ownership Foundation.

Louis O. Kelso Fellows 2019 - 2020 research

National ESOP Survey

Jungook Kim
Rutgers ESOP Survey 2020

Executive Summary of Research:

Despite the wide variation in the amount of the stock share, profit sharing and gain sharing across individuals, these dollar values did not always show significant association with various attitudes and behaviors.

We tested the effect of ESOP, profit sharing (PS), gain sharing (GS), other complimentary practices on important attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. These are: Affective commitment, helping or organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), intention to stop a free-rider, burnout, and intention to stay with the organization.

The results of the analysis imply that what’s most important is employees’ satisfaction with the ESOP, and how employees feel about their ownership—whether they feel like they are the owners. But at the same time, as in conventional firms, the relationship with supervisors mattered. A combination of satisfaction with ESOP (from good communication), psychological ownership, good employee-supervisor relationship will produce the best outcomes.

Clustering analysis identified two distinct groups of workers with significant differences in dollar value of employee ownership stake owned, profit and gain sharing, and several other important work attitudes. Understanding the variation among employee owners and compensating for the difference can lead to greater overall commitment and improved attitudes and behaviors among employees.

Assessing and reorganizing company practices focusing on employee ownership satisfaction, psychological ownership, and employee-supervisor satisfaction can contribute to maximizing the benefit of employee ownership.

Younger workers and workers with shorter tenures had significantly smaller ownership stakes and profit sharing and gain sharing values. These workers showed significant differences in several major work attitudes and require special attention.

Do Employee Share Owners Face Too Much Financial Risk? An Analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances of the Federal Reserve Board.

Saehee Kang
View Research

An objection to employee ownership is that employee accounts are inadequately diversified. Recent theory states that 10-15 percent of an employee’s wealth portfolio can be prudently invested in employer stock, if the rest of the portfolio is properly diversified. Our analysis shows that employee ownership appears to generally add to, rather than substitute for, other wealth, which lessens the financial risk. Other findings: Families with employer stock express more tolerance of financial risk, have higher self-rated knowledge of personal finances, and are more likely to understand the value of diversification.

By Saehee Kang with Douglas Kruse, Joseph Blasi, Dan Weltmann, and Jung Ook Kim

Berlin: Institute of Labor Economics, IZA DEP Number 12303, April 2019.  Under review at the Industrial and Labor Reations Review Journal.

Defining Employee Ownership: Four Meanings and Two Models

Christopher Mackin
View Research

The field of broad-based employee ownership within corporations is situated at the intersection of a broad range of scholarly disciplines. This paper attempts to map the diversity of approaches that currently dominate the discussion. A methodology that distinguishes background assumptions from foreground uses is enlisted to assist in completing our task.

By Chris Mackin

Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, Working Paper, August 2019.

Encouraging Inclusive Growth: The Employee Equity Loan Act

Christopher Mackin
View Research

Too few Americans benefit from economic opportunity because too few Americans participate in the ownership of those opportunities. Owing to demographic trends, in particular the approaching retirement of a bulge of baby boomer business owners, there exists today an unusual opportunity to finance the transfer of high performing businesses to their employees.

By Chris Mackin with Richard (Dick) May and Robert Hockett

Under review by Challenge Magazine.

Building the Assets of Low and Moderate Income Workers and their Families: The Role of Employee Ownership.

Janet Boguslaw
Current Position: Unchanged
At Application: Senior Lecturer, Senior Scientist, and Associate Director, Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
View Research

A series of 141 in-person interviews at 21 companies examined the role that employee ownership plays in helping employees in low and moderate income households. The study found that employee ownership narrows wealth inequality for all employees, especially for women and people of color.

By Janet Boguslaw and Lisa Schur 

Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations.

Ongoing Research

Minh Phan
Current Position: Unchanged
At Application: Ph.D. candidate, Business Administration (Accounting and Finance), Columbia University

Inside ownership and corporate governance in stock market companies and the Role of Employees in ESOPs in the Market for Corporate Control in U.S. Stock Market Companies.

Status: In process

Ongoing Research

Derek E. Rowland
Current Position: Unchanged
At Application: Ph.D. candidate, Business Administration, University of Wisconsin at Whitewater

An analysis of employee surveys to answer the question, “What characteristics of the ESOP influence employee engagement?”

Status: In process

Ongoing Research

Lucas McGranahan
Current Position: Senior Research Specialist, Great Cities Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago

An analysis of philosophical arguments for employee ownership in the United States; responsible for organizing panels of philosophers interested in employee ownership for the coming conferences.

Status: In process

Ongoing Research

Matthew Mazewski
Current Position: Unchanged
At Application: Ph.d. candidate, Columbia University, Department of Economics

Assessing the Impacts of U.S. Federal Tax Incentives for ESOP Adoption, A Proposed Study of the “1042 Rollover” using quantitative analysis linking the U.S. Census micro-data to the U.S. Department of Labor Form 5500.

Status: In process

Fiduciary Responsibilities Regarding External Investors in ESOP Companies

Christopher Mackin
Current Position: Unchanged
At Application: Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Human Resource Management, Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations
View Research

Recent developments in the US capital markets—including a new level of interest by a growing social-impact investment community—have led to larger pools of external capital, particularly equity-like capital, in leveraged ESOP transactions. This is a welcome development for ESOP transactions, but poses novel and important challenges for ESOP fiduciaries.

By Chris Mackin with Dick May, David Light, and Richard Pearl

Submitted to the Advisory Committee on Fiduciary Issues of the ESOP Association.

Employee Ownership and Job Attitudes: Investigating the Moderating Effect of Occupational Characteristics.

Saehee Kang
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Marquette University, Department of Management
At Application: Ph.D. candidate, Industrial Relations and Human Resources, Rutgers University, School of Management and Labor Relations, Department of Human Resource Management
View Research

Most studies find a positive association between employee ownership and attitudes toward the job and company. However, this effect may depend on the types of jobs employees perform. This study suggests that occupational characteristics such as task interest, job autonomy, and teamwork moderate the relationship between employee ownership and job attitudes, since workers should have better attitudes when their jobs give them both the opportunities and incentives to improve performance.

By Saehee Kang and Douglas Kruse

New Brunswick, New Jersey: Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, Working Paper, 2019

Building the Assets of Low and Moderate Income Workers and their Families: The Role of Employee Ownership

Daphne Berry, Robert W. Edwards Fellowship
Current Position: Robert W. Edwards Fellow, Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations
At Application: Associate Professor, University of Hartford, Barney School of Business
View Research

Multi-year study of B corporations and social enterprises that are ESOPs; employee ownership with modest income employees.

Member of the research team with co-authors Janet Boguslaw and Lisa Schur.