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Resources on Participation

Index of articles on ownership culture (includes organizational psychology, rights and responsibilities, motivation, cynicism, and more)

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The six clusters of rights and responsibilities

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Participation: Ownership Responsibilities

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One way to gauge a company's progress toward healthy psychological ownership is to monitor how well people understand and accept the responsibilities of being employee-owners. Research by Ownership Associates supports a strong connection between employee involvement and assumption of responsibilities.

From a manager's perspective, it is tempting to focus on employees' ownership responsibilities and underemphasize the concept of rights. The classic employee's perspective is the opposite, or what we call "rights heavy." These perspectives are stereotypes, but they illustrate a central failure of many employee-ownership companies: a healthy organizational culture endorses both rights and responsibilities.

The Ownership Culture Reports document that when members of the work force perceive themselves to have a right to have input into decisions made at the company, they are more likely to be willing to accept the responsibility to be good "corporate citizens."

In fact, our research suggests results that go even further.

Rights and Responsibilities ChartThe chart to the left illustrates results from eight typical employee-ownership companies. Each pair of bars represents one company: the bar on the left represents its "rights score" and the one on the right side is its "responsibilities score."

While rights and responsibilities do not move in lockstep, the general trend is clear: the companies where employees accept the highest degree of responsibilities are the ones where they perceive themselves as having the greatest degree of rights. [6]

The fundamental lesson, then, is that the basic feature of a strong ownership culture is the linkage between rights and responsibilites. It is not enough to talk about rights and to talk about responsibilities. Companies must emphasize the connection between them. If employees want a particular right at the company, they need to accept a corresponding responsibility. If managers want employees to accept and maintain a sense of responsibilities, they need to be willing to share more rights.

More information about ownership culture and the link between rights and responsibilities is online:

[6] "Participation: Decision Making and Employee Ownership," The Ownership Culture Report, Cambridge, MA: Ownership Associates, Inc., Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall/Winter, 1998.

Evaluating Involvement Systems

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