Carris Companies' Practice of Employee Governance  - CLEO Skip to main content


Distinguishing the Carris Companies’ transition to 100% employee ownership was its more unusual movement towards 100% employee governance. In 2001, employees shared 43.2% corporate ownership within an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). An ESOP is a form of worker ownership and deferred benefit plan recognised within the United States legal code. William H. (Bill) Carris, visionary CEO of this privately held company, described in his Long Term Plan (1994) unique goals that he had for corporate governance and the transfer of ownership, rights and responsibilities to the employees—in effect instituting the practice of governance. ‘Taking a practice-based stakeholder view … significantly alters the approach to the firm and its responsibilities, broadening the understanding of those to whom a firm is accountable. It moves the conversation … toward the quality and nature of the relationships that companies develop with stakeholders and the assessment of the impacts of corporate activities on those stakeholders’ (Waddock 2002: 9). This paper examines the Carris Companies’ practice of governance and the process used to prepare stakeholder citizens for their changing roles and relationships.