Employee Ownership and Governance: The Carris Companies Making Change Impacting the Whole  - CLEO Skip to main content


Given that large scale change has to start somewhere, the image of a pebble in a pool provides a visual for the primary goal for this paper to examine employee ownership generally and selected elements within the Carris whole systems purposeful change and its ongoing wider influence. This seems particularly worthwhile given the human scale and valuing change process within Carris as a mid-size international company that brought employees into the business as owners with full voice. The Carris transition increased the economic security and quality of life for employees, in addition to encouraging their voice in decision-making and governance to create their future reality. This paper is based on a longitudinal study of the transition of the Carris Companies from a traditional shareholder-primacy orientation toward full employee ownership and shared governance to illustrate the complexities and possibilities of shifting mind-sets preoccupied with traditional efficiency and profit maximisation. William H. (Bill) Carris set a deliberate purposeful course for the whole system change that he deeply desired for his employees. The Carris transformation, innovative in its own right, provides examples of change from being traditionally owned, managed and governed to having shared ownership, participatory management and shared governance by the whole, i.e. by all of the employees who themselves, in the process, have undergone significant transformative changes toward self, other, and system-awareness. The Carris transition can be viewed as influencing widening circles of change within whole systems and ecosystems which are aligned and share reality: locally, statewide, nationally, industry wide, and internationally.