Pieces of the Action: Ownership and the Changing Employment Relationship
Date of Original Version
Abstract or Description
This essay develops and links two models of ownership: first a composition model of the dimensions comprising ownership in firms, and a content model specifying the societal, firm, and individual factors that give rise to workers’ motivation to participate in ownership and employers’ motivation to share ownership. Ownership comprises financial participation, including control over residual assets, access to marginal revenues, participation in decision making, and access to financial information; along with sociopsychological factors including social standing, social responsibility, and psychological ownership. Firm ownership, across financial and sociopsychological facets, is increasingly parcelled out among financial investors, managers and workers. This new distribution of ownership is particularly characteristic of high technology and start up firms, due to the mobility of highly skilled workers, and their consequent power in the employment relationship. We specify how societal factors, firm characteristics, and worker qualities impact the motivation to own and the motivation to share ownership. By focusing on the shifting power balance of highly mobile workers, this treatment of emerging ownership practices provides a theoretical basis for understanding the employment relationship in start ups and high technological firms.