Every two years, scholars from around the world come together to attend the annual International Association for the Economics of Participation (IAFEP) conference, where they explore and share their research on labor-managed firms and organizations with broad-based employee shared-ownership. On July 13-14, The School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR) hosted the 2012 IAFEP Conference together with the Beyster Symposium, welcoming approximately 125 social science scholars from around the world to Rutgers, including 50 members of Rutgers fellowship program on employee ownership and profit sharing and SMLR Ph.D. students and faculty.
Held at the Bloustein School building in New Brunswick, the international forum permitted attendees to present and debate current research and scholarship during a series of panel sessions. This year’s focus was on the relationship between employers and employees in organizations where employees are financial and/or decision-making participants as well as the effects of these dynamics on workers’ pay, job security, and stress. In conjunction with the event, the Beyster Fellows Symposium was held for young emerging scholars who are being supported through the Rutgers fellowship program to study employee ownership and profit sharing. The Beyster Symposium typically brings the Rutgers fellows together each summer.
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“It is fantastic to see this unprecedented combination of scholars,” says Mary Ann Beyster, president of the Foundation for Enterprise Development. Beyster debuted the national preview of the film she produced, “We the Owners: Employees Expanding the American Dream.” The film profiles three U.S. companies and their culture of responsibility, environments in which all employees are empowered as decision makers and exposed to the company’s financial records.
“In these companies, both large and small, workers have a sense of pride in what they do and treat their jobs as their own business. The response from U.S and international scholars during the symposium was terrific. It is my hope that this film will be widely used as an educational platform for professors, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and workers,” says Beyster.
Professor Richard Freeman, a leading labor economist and professor at Harvard University, gave the keynote address. He discussed the rise of global financial inequality, the consequences of increased within-country inequality, and the benefits of a participatory workplace. In addition to Freeman’s talk, Daniel McDonald from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst was awarded the Horvat-Vanek Prize, which is valued at approximately $1,000 U.S. dollars. The Horvat-Vanek Prize is awarded every two years for a research paper of exceptional quality written by a young scholar. McDonald was honored for his paper, “Understanding the Source of Productivity Growth During Industrialization: An Empirical Investigation of the Dynamic Properties of Piece Rate Contracts.” In his paper, McDonald explores the role that management policy and changing social conditions play in influencing worker productivity.
During a panel session, SMLR Professor Stan Gully presented the research he conducted with SMLR Ph.D. candidate John McCarthy, SMLR Professor Jean Phillips, and SMLR Dean Susan J. Schurman. The group studied the role of self-esteem and ability in influencing job applicants’ reactions towards employee-owned companies. Although their research is in a preliminary stage, it has unveiled several key findings, including the fact that people are attracted to job opportunities where they perceive they will have better success. This suggests that an organization’s messages of employee ownership to job candidates can change the mix of people who are interested in a position.
Mohammad Ali, SMLR Ph.D. Program alumnus ’12 and current assistant professor at New York Institute of Technology, and Anne-Laure Winkler, a SMLR Ph.D. candidate, presented their research. Ali and Winkler are exploring the link between employee ownership and voice mechanisms. By conducting a qualitative case study, their preliminary findings suggest that there are higher levels of employee involvement in employee-owned firms.
Winkler also presented the initial results of the study she conducted with SMLR Professors Joseph Blasi, Doug Kruse and David Finegold. The study,Do Employee-owned Firms Manage Their Stakeholders More Proactively Than Non Employee-owned Firms?, suggests that the higher levels of employee ownership in public corporations may be associated with these positive impacts on stakeholders.
SMLR professors Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse also presented a paper entitled, Broad-based Worker Ownership and Profit Sharing: Can These Ideas Work in the Entire Economy?. Their study surveys the different formats of employee stock ownership and profit sharing across the entire U.S. economy, summarizes relevant research, and discusses what it would take to extend the idea economy-wide.
Above: A panel session on employee ownership and human resource maangement (Beyster Symposium Session).
Above: Event sponsors and organizers gather for a photo shoot.
Virginie Pérotin from Leeds University believes that the caliber of scholars and event topics have helped to advance their research. Pérotin has been involved in IAFEP since she was a graduate student and attended her first conference in Mexico in 1982. She chaired this year’s session on the drivers of performance.
Pérotin says, “IAFEP is getting stronger each year, particularly over the last 10 years. We have a younger generation of scholars that have been producing very high quality research. We have a bright future ahead of us.”
TheInternational Association for the Economics of Participation (IAFEP) conference is dedicated to exploring the economics of democratic and participatory economic organizations. Submissions for the 2012 conference were invited from all relevant fields of study, including industrial and labor economics, organizational studies, psychology, and law. For more information on this year’s event and presenters, visit http://smlr.rutgers.edu/2012-iafep.
TheFoundation for Enterprise Development(FED) was founded by Dr. J. Robert Beyster in 1986.The FED is committed to fostering business principles that support the creation of an ownership culture with employees who grow the company. The FED creates and oversees new applied research and education programs in support of students and faculty at business schools, engineering schools, and entrepreneurship centers across the nation.
The FED has sponsored the summer Beyster Fellowship Symposium for the past four years. Fellows meet twice a year during the symposium to present academic papers, receive feedback from each other, and develop collaborative research.To find out more information on the Foundation for Enterprise Development and the film, “We the Owners: Employees Enhancing the American Dream,” visit http://www.fed.org/or www.wetheowners.com.
For information pertaining to scholars’ research, contact Elena Orama firstname.lastname@example.org
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On July 13-14, The School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR) hosted the 2012 IAFEP Conference together with the Beyster Symposium, welcoming approximately 125 social science scholars from around the world to Rutgers, including 50 members of Rutgers fellowship program on employee ownership and profit sharing and SMLR Ph.D. students and faculty.