Ownership and work : the impact of shareholding on employee attitudes and behaviors

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1988

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Abstract

This dissertation investigates the impact of share ownership on attitudes and work-related behaviors of 900 nonmanagerial shareholders in 29 U.S. firms. A major goal of the study is to test a theoretical model of ownership based on two kinds of rights: active ownership rights that entitle errployee-owners to participate in management; and passive rights, that define and limit the economic benefits of shareholding. The model is corpared to other ownership antecedents with regard to its ability to explain differences in the way workers define themselves as owners. In addition, relationships between ownership rights and commitment, satisfaction, motivation and voluntary turnover are examined. Results show that the model is a better predictor of ownership identification than previously used antecedents and that ownership rights are significantly correlated with organizational commitment, ownership satisfaction and workers' intention to leave. These relationships are contingent on both the size of the employee shareholder population and the overall level of company participativeness. Evidence is provided that workers are significantly more likely to define themselves as owners vhen they have opportunities to became involved in company governance, and when rights of ownership do not significantly favor managers. An important conclusion is that ownership research can and should be more sensitive to qualitative aspects of shareholding. Rather than focusing on how much is owned, as has frequently been the case in past studies, researchers would do well to examine the kinds of entitlements ownership conveys. In this study, workers who had the opportunity to vote and to participate in management activities were likely to define themselves as owners even vhen enplcyee shareholdings represented a conparatively small proportion of total conpany stock. Overall, the study provides evidence for the importance of ownership in the organizational environment, and for the value of a more coirplex approach to the study of ownership than has characterized past research.

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Keywords

Employee ownership, Management--Employee participation

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