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The notion that employees might become owners of the companies where they work has centuries of history, but in the early 1970s, employee ownership in the U.S. was mostly confined to a handful of experimental companies. Over the last three decades, however, a stealth economic revolution has occurred. By 2006, the General Social Survey estimated that 35 percent —or more than 25 million — of the employees who work for U.S. corporations were participating in one or more stock ownership plan in their companies.

To understand the value of employee ownership, we need to look at what the research on the broader phenomenon tells us. The first question to be asked is whether employee ownership is actually good for employees. Coming from an advocate of employee ownership, my answer may seem surprising because it is not a simple ‘yes’; it depends on the kind of ownership.

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