Advancing the Expansion of the Middle Class, SMLR Appoints Research Fellows to Study the Impact of Shares
Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (December 31, 2020) – The Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing today announced the appointment of 16 research fellows to investigate economic policies that can save jobs, boost middle class wages, close the wealth gap for Black and Latinx workers, and sustain small businesses through the COVID recession.

“Profit sharing and employee share ownership stakes at work can be an important part of middle-class incomes,” said Joseph Blasi, the J. Robert Beyster Distinguished Professor and Director of the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. “With real wages growing slowly, the best middle-class jobs will also provide a share of profits or ownership based on the performance of the company.”

Research shows that owning a piece of the company where you work and sharing in its profits can increase productivity, reduce employee turnover, and help workers build significant wealth. The diverse class of 2020-21 Rutgers research fellows will study how this model can resolve some of the most pressing economic issues of our time. Research highlights include:

  • Most retiring small business owners do not have a succession plan. Now, the COVID recession is pressuring them to make a quick decision—putting millions of jobs at risk. Hilary Abell, Adria Scharf, and James Terez will study what happens when retiring owners sell the business to their employees and managers because no family member can take over. (Terez is helping to lead a Rutgers initiative on this strategy for businesses owned by women and people of color.)
  • The recession is disproportionately affecting women, Black and Latinx workers and shining a light on the income inequality they have always faced. Shares can help to close the gap. Maru Bautista will examine gig platform worker cooperatives that help immigrant women to find quality jobs. Tanya Brice Smith will build on the Institute’s Kellogg Project by analyzing how ESOPs enable Black women to accumulate wealth.
  • People who serve time in prison sometimes face a difficult journey back to work and wellness. Adriane Clomax will research how working for an employee-owned company can improve mental health outcomes for formerly-incarcerated individuals. 
  • Christopher Michael will study a new format that allows retiring business owners to sell to an Employee Ownership Trust, or EOT. Michael’s work is supported by the new Joseph Cabral Endowment, which identifies new leading scholars in the field.

“The pandemic’s devastating effects on middle- and lower-income workers highlight the need for new approaches to increase economic resilience,” said Distinguished Professor Douglas Kruse, Associate Director of the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing and former Senior Economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers. “Sharing economic rewards more broadly through employee share ownership and profit sharing has a lot of promise for bringing up the incomes and job security of regular workers.”  

The Beyster family established the research fellowship program and the J. Robert Beyster endowed professorship in 2008. With generous support from the Beyster Foundation for Enterprise Development, the Employee Ownership Foundation, and other donors, it has grown to become one of the largest fellowship programs at Rutgers University. The scholars announced today will join the Institute’s global network of more than 100 research fellows and faculty mentors worldwide.

2020-21 Research Fellows

  • Hilary Abell, Project Equity, Executive Fellow
  • Maru Bautista, Center for Family Life, Executive Fellow
  • Colin Birkhead, Duke University, Louis O. Kelso Fellow
  • David Ciepley, University of Denver, Rutgers Research Fellow
  • Adriane Clomax, University of Southern California, Corey Rosen Fellow
  • Jamil Hassounah, Wilmington University, Rutgers Research Fellow
  • Tony Kong, University of South Florida, Rutgers Research Fellow
  • Jegoo Lee, University of Rhode Island, Rutgers Research Fellow
  • Benjamin Leff, American University, Roland Attenborough Fellow
  • Christopher Mackin, Harvard Law School, Ray Carey Fellow
  • Christopher Michael, Rutgers University, Joseph Cabral Distinguished Scholar and Fellow
  • Simon Pek, University of Victoria, Rutgers Research Fellow
  • Adria Scharf, Rutgers University, J. Robert Beyster Fellow
  • Tanya Brice Smith, Rutgers University, Robert W. Edwards Fellow
  • Michael C. Sturman, Rutgers University, Lon and Lauren McGowan Fellow
  • James Terez, Rutgers University, Corey Rosen Fellow

Click here for more information about the fellows and their research.

Press Contact
Steve Flamisch
Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations
848.252.9011 (cell)

About the School
The Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR) is the world’s leading source of expertise on managing and representing workers, designing effective organizations, and building strong employment relationships. SMLR’s Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing studies various models of profit and equity shares in the corporations and society of the United States and around the world. It sponsors an empirical research program, a competitive research fellowship program, a policy analysis unit, a technical assistance center (The NJ/NY Center for Employee Ownership), a program to assist professors to develop curriculum on shares (The Curriculum Library for Employee Ownership), and the world’s leading academic conferences on shares.