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The Citizen's Share

The Citizen's Share: Putting Ownership Back into Democracy

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Citizen's Share
    Book Description:

    The idea of workers owning the businesses where they work is not new. In America's early years, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison believed that the best economic plan for the Republic was for citizens to have some ownership stake in the land, which was the main form of productive capital. This book traces the development of that share idea in American history and brings its message to today's economy, where business capital has replaced land as the source of wealth creation.

    Based on a ten-year study of profit sharing and employee ownership at small and large corporations, this important and insightful work makes the case that the Founders' original vision of sharing ownership and profits offers a viable path toward restoring the middle class. Blasi, Freeman, and Kruse show that an ownership stake in a corporation inspires and increases worker loyalty, productivity, and innovation. Their book offers history-, economics-, and evidence-based policy ideas at their best.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19506-4
    Subjects: Business, Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
    (pp. 1-15)

    The Revolutionary War left the American cod industry in dire straits.³ Cod was the fourth-most-valuable export of the American colonies and a mainstay of their economy. Fishermen caught cod off the coast of New England and to the north and brought them home to dry and export to Europe and the British West Indies. Demand for cod was strong in the Catholic countries of Europe, where religious people abstained from eating meat on Fridays. West Indian slave owners bought dried cod to feed slaves.⁴

    During the Revolutionary War, Britain had sought to destroy the industry, whose seamen were the core...

    (pp. 16-56)

    On Saturday, April 1, 1786, in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania General Assembly debated whether to give a corporate charter to the Bank of North America.⁴ Benjamin Franklin chaired the meeting as president of the Pennsylvania Executive Council. The Bank of North America, one of the first banks in the United States, is where the Continental Congress held money to clothe and feed the army in the Revolutionary War and to pay the soldiers’ wages. Its building still stands at the corner of South Sixth and Chestnut Streets near Independence Hall. This was one of the first debates about...

    (pp. 57-108)

    This chapter is about examples. Some analysts dismiss examples as anecdotes—folk medicine tales that should be taken with many grains of salt. An example or two of corporations that operate successfully with a system of employee stock ownership or profit sharing or stock purchase does not prove that such systems work in general. Perhaps there is something unique about a company or its CEO or history or workforce that makes broad ownership or profit sharing succeed, whereas such a system would not work in general. We disagree. Validated examples or case studies in the more formal business school sense...

    (pp. 109-122)

    How many employees in the United States today share in the ownership and profits of the corporation for which they work? How much of their income comes from profit sharing and ownership stakes? How do citizens’ shares differ among persons?

    Until recently neither the government nor any private group could answer these questions with any certainty. National surveys did not comprehensively ask a representative group of citizens whether they had a property stake in the business for which they worked through profit sharing, gain sharing, employee stock ownership, or stock options or stock grants, nor the amounts of those stakes....

    (pp. 123-166)

    The evidence in the last chapter that almost half of American wage and salary workers are involved in some form of broad-based capitalism, albeit at relatively modest levels, may have surprised you. We were surprised and so too were others, including social scientists, when we showed them the results. They run counter to three widespread skeptical views about the potential of corporations in which workers have some ownership stake and profit share to offer a way to address the issues of inequality and property ownership that concerned the Founders. The first view, associated with the notion that people only pursue...

    (pp. 167-194)

    This chapter has a simple message: the cases of firms that succeed with various forms of broad-based capitalism in Chapter 2 generalize to business broadly.

    To be sure, few firms succeed to the extent of Google, Procter & Gamble, or Southwest Airlines or do as well for their workers as some of the highlighted corporations of all sizes. The statistical evidence relates not to exemplars but to averages that reflect the experience of all firms in which employees have some property stake. The averages show that the key indicator of economic performance, namely productivity, and many other measures related to...

    (pp. 195-223)

    Stipulate that the findings in this book are correct and that extending broad-based capitalism to more workers and increasing the citizen’s shares of business property and capital income offers a way to help cure our economic ills and resolve the tension between inequality and democracy that concerned the Founding Fathers.

    What can citizens—employees, employers, political leaders, business leaders, you, and we, the authors of this book—do to advance a broad-based capitalist economic agenda? What policies can move our economy along the road of broad-based property ownership?

    This chapter offers a set of guiding policy ideas and suggestions to...

    (pp. 224-228)

    The idea ofThe Citizen’s Share—that the economic and political success of the United States depends on citizens sharing in the ownership and profits of the economic system as well as in the electoral process of the political system—is both traditional and radical.

    It is traditional because, as this book has shown, many of the Founders of the country and their successors throughout U.S. history believed that a thriving middle class with capital ownership is necessary for political liberty and economic independence. Generation after generation, Americans with diverse views in other domains have favored policies to strengthen a...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 229-274)
    (pp. 275-280)
    J.R.B., R.F. and D.K.
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 281-293)