Shared Capitalism at Work: Employee Ownership, Profit and Gain Sharing, and Broad-Based Stock Options

University of Chicago Press
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The historical relationship between capital and labor has evolved in the past few decades. One particularly noteworthy development is the rise of shared capitalism, a system in which workers have become partial owners of their firms and thus, in effect, both employees and stockholders. Profit sharing arrangements and gain-sharing bonuses, which tie compensation directly to a firm’s performance, also reflect this new attitude toward labor.

Shared Capitalism at Work
analyzes the effects of this trend on workers and firms. The contributors focus on four main areas: the fraction of firms that participate in shared capitalism programs in the United States and abroad, the factors that enable these firms to overcome classic free rider and risk problems, the effect of shared capitalism on firm performance, and the impact of shared capitalism on worker well-being. This volume provides essential studies for understanding the increasingly important role of shared capitalism in the modern workplace.
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About the author

Douglas L. Kruse is professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Richard B. Freeman holds the Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University and is a research associate of the NBER. He is the former director of the NBER Labor Studies program. Joseph R. Blasi holds the J. Robert Beyster Chair in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University and is a research associate of the NBER.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Jun 15, 2010
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9780226056968
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Business & Economics / General
Business & Economics / Industries / General
Business & Economics / Labor
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The U.S. labor market is the most laissez faire of any developed nation, with a weak social safety net and little government regulation compared to Europe or Japan. Some economists point to this hands-off approach as the source of America's low unemployment and high per-capita income. But the stagnant living standards and rising economic insecurity many Americans now face take some of the luster off the U.S. model. In America Works, noted economist Richard Freeman reveals how U.S. policies have created a labor market remarkable both for its dynamism and its disparities. America Works takes readers on a grand tour of America's exceptional labor market, comparing the economic institutions and performance of the United States to the economies of Europe and other wealthy countries. The U.S. economy has an impressive track record when it comes to job creation and productivity growth, but it isn't so good at reducing poverty or raising the wages of the average worker. Despite huge gains in productivity, most Americans are hardly better off than they were a generation ago. The median wage is actually lower now than in the early 1970s, and the poverty rate in 2005 was higher than in 1969. So why have the benefits of productivity growth been distributed so unevenly? One reason is that unions have been steadily declining in membership. In Europe, labor laws extend collective bargaining settlements to non-unionized firms. Because wage agreements in America only apply to firms where workers are unionized, American managers have discouraged unionization drives more aggressively. In addition, globalization and immigration have placed growing competitive pressure on American workers. And boards of directors appointed by CEOs have raised executive pay to astronomical levels. Freeman addresses these problems with a variety of proposals designed to maintain the vigor of the U.S. economy while spreading more of its benefits to working Americans. To maintain America's global competitive edge, Freeman calls for increased R&D spending and financial incentives for students pursuing graduate studies in science and engineering. To improve corporate governance, he advocates licensing individuals who serve on corporate boards. Freeman also makes the case for fostering worker associations outside of the confines of traditional unions and for establishing a federal agency to promote profit-sharing and employee ownership. Assessing the performance of the U.S. job market in light of other developed countries' recent history highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the free market model. Written with authoritative knowledge and incisive wit, America Works provides a compelling plan for how we can make markets work better for all Americans. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series
For much of the 20th century, American workers were the world's leaders in productivity, wages, and positive workplace conditions. American unions championed free enterprise and high labor standards, and American businesses dominated the world market. But, as editor Richard B. Freeman cautions in Working Under Different Rules, despite our relatively high standard of living we have fallen behind our major trading partners and competitors in providing good jobs at good pay—what was once considered "the American dream." Working Under Different Rules assesses the decline in the well-being of American workers—evidenced by spiraling income inequality and stagnant real earnings—and compares our employment and labor conditions with those of Western Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia. As these original essays demonstrate, the modern U.S. labor market is characterized by a high degree of flexibility, with rapid employee turnover, ongoing creation of new jobs, and decentralized wage setting practices. But closer inspection reveals a troubling flip side to this adaptability in the form of inadequate job training, more frequent layoffs, and increased numbers of workers pushed to the very bottom of the income scale, into the low wage occupations where much of the recent job growth has occurred. While the variety of works councils prevalent throughout the developed world have done much to foster democratic rights and economic protection for employees, the virtually union-free environment emerging in many areas of the private U.S. economy has stripped workers of a strong collective voice. German apprenticeship programs and the Japanese system of "job rotation" represent more effective approaches to preparing workers for the changing demands of lifetime employment. In addition, workers in European advanced economies and in Canada have greater social protection than Americans. But while this has some cost in unemployment and higher taxes, carefully designed social safety nets do not seriously jeopardize economic efficiency. Working Under Different Rules is an illuminating analysis of the often complex interaction of market institutions, social policy, and economic results. The authors' up-to-date international assessment of unions, wage setting, apprenticeship programs, welfare support, and works councils suggests alternate ways of training, paying, and empowering workers that, if effectively adapted, could facilitate the growth of a healthier American economy and better prospects for American workers.
The American economy is in danger of leaving its low-skilled workers behind. In the last two decades, the wages and employment levels of the least educated and experienced workers have fallen disastrously. Where willing workers once found ready employment at reasonable wages, our computerized, service-oriented economy demands workers who can read and write, master technology, deal with customers, and much else. Improved education and training will alleviate this problem in the long run, but educating the new workforce will take a substantial national investment over many years. In the meantime, we face increasingly acute questions about how to include low-skill workers in today's economy. Generating Jobs takes a hard look at these questions, and asks whether anything can be done to improve the lot of low-skilled workers by intervening in the labor market on their behalf. These micro demand-side policies seek to improve wages and employment levels—either by lowering the costs of hiring low-skilled workers through employer subsidies, or by raising wage levels, benefit levels, or hours of employment, or by providing employment via government jobs. Although these policies are not currently popular in the U.S., they have long been used in many countries. Generating Jobs provides a clear-eyed assessment of this history, and asks if any of these policies might be applicable to the current problems of low-skilled workers in the United States. The results are surprising. Several recently touted panaceas turn out to be costly and ineffective in the American labor market. Enterprise zones, for instance, are an expensive way of moving jobs into areas of high unemployment, costing as much as $60,000 per job. Similarly, job-sharing, which has had uneven success in Europe, turns out to be ill-suited to conditions in the U.S., where wages are relatively low and workers need to work long hours to maintain income. On the other hand, a number of older, less flashy policies turn out to have real, if modest, benefits. Wage subsidies have increased employment among qualifying workers, and public employment policies can increase the number of workers from targeted groups working during the program. While acknowledging that many solutions are counterproductive, this definitive review of active labor market policies shows that many programs can offer real help. More than any rhetoric, Generating Jobs is the best guide to future action and a serious response to those who claim that nothing can be done.
The U.S. labor market is the most laissez faire of any developed nation, with a weak social safety net and little government regulation compared to Europe or Japan. Some economists point to this hands-off approach as the source of America's low unemployment and high per-capita income. But the stagnant living standards and rising economic insecurity many Americans now face take some of the luster off the U.S. model. In America Works, noted economist Richard Freeman reveals how U.S. policies have created a labor market remarkable both for its dynamism and its disparities. America Works takes readers on a grand tour of America's exceptional labor market, comparing the economic institutions and performance of the United States to the economies of Europe and other wealthy countries. The U.S. economy has an impressive track record when it comes to job creation and productivity growth, but it isn't so good at reducing poverty or raising the wages of the average worker. Despite huge gains in productivity, most Americans are hardly better off than they were a generation ago. The median wage is actually lower now than in the early 1970s, and the poverty rate in 2005 was higher than in 1969. So why have the benefits of productivity growth been distributed so unevenly? One reason is that unions have been steadily declining in membership. In Europe, labor laws extend collective bargaining settlements to non-unionized firms. Because wage agreements in America only apply to firms where workers are unionized, American managers have discouraged unionization drives more aggressively. In addition, globalization and immigration have placed growing competitive pressure on American workers. And boards of directors appointed by CEOs have raised executive pay to astronomical levels. Freeman addresses these problems with a variety of proposals designed to maintain the vigor of the U.S. economy while spreading more of its benefits to working Americans. To maintain America's global competitive edge, Freeman calls for increased R&D spending and financial incentives for students pursuing graduate studies in science and engineering. To improve corporate governance, he advocates licensing individuals who serve on corporate boards. Freeman also makes the case for fostering worker associations outside of the confines of traditional unions and for establishing a federal agency to promote profit-sharing and employee ownership. Assessing the performance of the U.S. job market in light of other developed countries' recent history highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the free market model. Written with authoritative knowledge and incisive wit, America Works provides a compelling plan for how we can make markets work better for all Americans. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series
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