Worker Ownership in Enron's Wake - Revisiting a Community Development Tactic
22 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2004
Worker ownership of business enterprise has long been touted as a vehicle for community economic development. Employee stock ownership plans in leveraged buy-outs, ESOPs and broad-based stock options in going concerns, and worker cooperatives in selected sectors - the experience has varied widely in goals, method, and outcome.
This Article reflects on the continued utility of worker ownership as a component of community development and calls attention to contrasts with conventional corporate governance and goals. Rather than an end in itself or just another way of doing business, worker ownership can be a vital element of a broader job creation, community organizing, or community revitalization strategy. With respect to corporate structure theory, worker ownership presents a refreshing counterpoint to the conventional corporate governance debate in the Enron era. Its relevance is as a concrete alternative to conventional corporate practices and a hint of the potential in re-making the corporation as a more democratic social institution.
Keywords: community development, corporate governance, worker ownership, employee ownership, ESOP, Enron, cooperatives, corporate democracy
JEL Classification: G34, K22, L22, L31, J24, J54, L52, R11, Z13
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