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Resources on Participation

What do employees at your company think about ownership? Ask them

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Participation: Challenges of Employee Ownership

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In general, expectations have a major effect on organizational performance. Expectations of positive results motivate employees to outperform their peers in non-ownership companies. Alternatively, as a recent study concluded: "The result of inflated expectations... are significant negative outcomes: turnover (as high as 60%), low satisfaction, and a lack of organizational commitment." [2] Many companies fail to meet employees' expectations about ownership and then find that ownership becomes a disappointment.

On the other hand, meeting these expectations may be impossible. One researcher found that employees' desired level of participation generally exceeds their perceived level of participation. [3] Employees may have concepts of ownership that are more appropriate to direct ownership of a concrete asset, such as a car or a house, than to the complex web of responsibilities in a modern company's management and governance structure.

Unfortunately, even in companies where non-management employees have realistic expectations for their role in decision making, expectations on the part of middle managers and supervisors can still be a challenge. Worries, often legitimate, about what employees expect from ownership may cause middle managers to be a source of resistance to employee-ownership.


[2] Buckley, M. Ronald, Donald Fedor, John Veres, Danielle Wiese, Shawn Carraher. 1998. "Investigating Newcomer Expectations and Job-Related Outcomes," Journal of Applied Psychology, American Psychological Association, Vol. 83, No. 3, p. 453.

[3] Rosen, Corey, Katherine J. Klein, Karen M. Young. 1986. Employee Ownership in America: The Equity Solution. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Managing Expectations

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