Employee Governance and the Ownership of the Firm

Business Ethics Quarterly 14 (1):1-21 (2004)
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Employee governance, which includes employee ownership and employee participation in decision making, is regarded by manyas morally preferable to control of corporations by shareholders. However, employee governance is rare in advanced market economies due to its relative inefficiency compared with shareholder governance. Given this inefficiency, should employee governance be given up as an impractical ideal? This article contends that the debate over this question is hampered by an inadequate conception of employee governance that fails to take into account the difference between employees and shareholders. It offers a different, more adequate conception of employee governance that recognizes a sense in which employees currently have some ownership rights. The argument for this conception of employee governance is built on an expanded understanding of the ownership of a firm. The article also suggests new strategies for strengthening the role of employees in corporate governance



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