Governance and Decision Making at Carris Reels - CLEO Skip to main content



Carris Reels, a reel-manufacturing company headquartered in Vermont, had long-standing goals of being employee owned and governed. They also had a strong organizational (ownership) culture. The Corporate Steering Committee (CSC), a committee composed of representatives from management and non-management employees, and the board of directors had a decision to make about adding two new members to the board. With these new members, the board of directors would be made up of both members of management and non-management employees. Was Carris forfeiting wiser outside counsel in favor of company insiders? What about for the future of the company?

Research methodology

The data for this case were collected from discussions and informal interviews with Carris Reels employees, and archival data from the company intranet which includes an archival of company newsletters, meeting minutes and announcements. Information on the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), board of directors, the CSC, and ESOP trustees from these sources were also used.

Relevant courses and levels

This case is suitable for strategic management, and social responsibility and social enterprise-focused courses for upper-level undergraduates and MBA students.

Theoretical bases

The sources, development, and outcomes of a strong organizational culture are important to this case. Schein (1989) and others (Harris and Ogbanna, 1999) address the role of a company’s founder in development of the company’s culture. Research addressing ownership and participation in the context of an ownership culture indicates positive outcomes to employees and to their companies (Logue and Yates, 2005; Ownership Associates, 1998).