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ESOP Committee Development:
This is the final part of a seven-part article.
Published in the ESOP Committee Guide, Oakland: The
National Center for Employee Ownership, 2000
by Stephen Clifford, Loren Rodgers and
Ownership Associates, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
The full text is available in PDF format and as a multipart webpage.
ESOP Committees can contribute to company success in a range of ways. They can help management understand what employees think about ownership and the company. This alone is an invaluable feature of good committees, is strongly correlated with a high level of "ownership identity" among employees,i and is a significant component of high performance organizations.ii Yet ESOP Committees will not always be highly productive.
As each committee develops in its own way, through some rather predictable stages, it can grow into a highly productive force for organizational change. Through attentiveness to the stage of development a given committee is in, management can lend a more timely and useful hand in helping ESOP Committees achieve progress and productivity. For committee members, an understanding of this developmental model can create a context to help understand current dilemmas. Awareness of these stages can reduce a sense of isolation and offer a preview of a future that should be more productive than the challenges of the present.
Research has shown, and the anecdotal experience of the author and other practitioners who work with ESOP companies suggest that an ESOP Committee can be instrumental in organizational change. A well-formed, diverse committee that includes members from all levels and divisions of an organization can provide invaluable assistance to any effort to embrace and create a "culture of ownership" at ESOP companies. ESOP companies that have built a culture of ownership have, in nearly every major study, been shown to out-perform their competitors who do not pursue such a culture, or lack meaningful employee ownership. The evidence is clear; a major challenge for ESOP companies is to create committees able to make important contributions to company success.
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