Participation as a Theory of Employment

53 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2013 Last revised: 13 Jun 2013

See all articles by Matthew T. Bodie

Matthew T. Bodie

Saint Louis University School of Law

Date Written: April 17, 2013


The concept of employment is an important legal category, not only for labor and employment law, but also for intellectual property law, torts, criminal law, and tax. The right-to-control test has dominated the debate over the definition of “employee” since its origins in the master-servant doctrine. However, the test no longer represents our modern notion of what it means to be an employee. This change has played itself out in research on the theory of the firm, which has shifted from a model of control to a model of participation in a team production process. This Article uses the theory of the firm literature to provide a new doctrinal definition for “employee” based on the concept of participation rather than control. The participation test better delineates the boundaries of employment and provides a framework for addressing the stresses on firms and workers that are rife within the modern economy.

Keywords: theory of the firm, employee, employment, participation

JEL Classification: J5, K31, L22, M55

Suggested Citation

Bodie, Matthew T., Participation as a Theory of Employment (April 17, 2013). Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 89, 2013, Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-20, Available at SSRN:

Matthew T. Bodie (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States

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