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The Citizen's Share: Reducing Inequality in the 21st Century

Joseph R. Blasi Richard B. Freeman Douglas L. Kruse



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Yale University
15 October 2014
Business & Economics; Economic history; Employee-ownership & co-operatives
A compelling argument for broad-based profit sharing and employee ownership in keeping with the economic vision of America's Founders The idea of workers owning the businesses where they work is not new. In America's early years, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison believed that the best economic plan for the Republic was for citizens to have some ownership stake in the land, which was the main form of productive capital. This book traces the development of that share idea in American history and brings its message to today's economy, where business capital has replaced land as the source of wealth creation. Based on a ten-year study of profit sharing and employee ownership at small and large corporations, this important and insightful work makes the case that the Founders' original vision of sharing ownership and profits offers a viable path toward restoring the middle class. Blasi, Freeman, and Kruse show that an ownership stake in a corporation inspires and increases worker loyalty, productivity, and innovation. Their book offers history-, economics-, and evidence-based policy ideas at their best.
By:   Joseph R. Blasi, Richard B. Freeman, Douglas L. Kruse
Imprint:   Yale University
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   395g
ISBN:   9780300209334
ISBN 10:   0300209339
Pages:   304
Publication Date:   15 October 2014
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Joseph R. Blasi, J. Robert Beyster Professor and sociologist, and Douglas L. Kruse, professor and economist, are both at the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University. Richard B. Freeman is Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics at Harvard University.

Reviews for The Citizen's Share: Reducing Inequality in the 21st Century

Important and insightful. . . . Offers history-, economics-, and evidenced-based policy ideas at their best. -Politico * Politico * [A] thought-provoking addiction to the literature, given the current debates on economic inequality. -Choice * Choice * Three professors would rather see income flowing into the hands of the many, and they've written a book to point the way. . . . `The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes.' Keynes wrote those words about England in 1936. To deal with the same faults, America needs more `citizen's shares' in 2014. -Gerald E. Scorse, Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel -- Gerald E. Scorse * Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel * One of the big frustrations about income inequality is that when corporate profits grow, they aren't shared equally-typical employees sees very little from it, while the people at the top, and big investors, reap most of the rewards. . . . One solution? Give average workers direct ownership in the company and its profits. . . . [A] new book called The Citizen's Share advocates government tax incentives to encourage companies to introduce profit-sharing and stock-ownership programs for their employees, or expand the programs they already have. . . . The authors argue that increased ownership and a share in profits may be the key to reviving the American middle class. -David Parkinson, Economy Lab, Toronto Globe and Mail -- David Parkinson * Economy Lab, Toronto Globe and Mail * Employee ownership-profit sharing, stock sharing and other employee-ownership plans-can increase your workers' productivity and innovation. Research shows that workers at companies with employee ownership plans work harder, are more creative and more loyal. That translates into better company performance. `The impacts are larger when the programs are larger, as in many closely held ESOP companies and some model publicly traded companies,' say Rutgers professors Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse and Harvard economist Richard Freeman, in their new book The Citizen's Share. -Michael Kling, Entrepreneur Magazine -- Michael Kling * Entrepreneur Magazine * George Washington liked the basic idea, as did Thomas Jefferson. We should build on our rich national tradition of support for widespread asset ownership. Joseph Blasi, Richard Freeman and Douglas Kruse develop this proposition in a new book, The Citizen's Share, which lends historical perspective to their empirical research on shared capitalism. -Nancy Folbre, Economix, The New York Times -- Nancy Folbre * Economix, The New York Times * The Citizens Share demonstrates that employee ownership is as American as apple pie. Let's put it to use to improve our lives and strengthen our democracy. The authors do a superb job of showing the way to do so. --Thomas A. Kochan, Co-Director, MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research -- Thomas Kochan Rutgers management professors Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse and Harvard economics professor Richard Freeman wrote The Citizen's Share. . . . They argued that worker ownership had a long history in the American economy and a long history of bipartisan and cross-ideological support. . . . One proposal to implement [their] strategy would be to have state and federal governments link corporate tax rates to the extent of the companies' profit sharing: The more that's shared, the lower the rate. -Harold Meyerson, The American Prospect -- Harold Meyerson * The American Prospect * The Citizen's Share is a must-read for current and future business leaders as well as policymakers who believe all American's are entitled to participate in a healthy and growing U.S. economy. This insightful tapestry of history, economics and psychology begins by telling the story that our country was founded with the right for all citizens to ownership and ends with 10 non-partisan policy recommendations that will ensure ownership is a right for all, not just the 1%. -Carine M. Schneider, Chairman of the Board, Global Equity Organization -- Carine M. Schneider Based on comprehensive data and painstaking historical research, The Citizen's Share provides a superb overview of employee ownership in the United States. At a moment when economic inequality has reached an apogee and trust in corporations a nadir, when the employment relationship has frayed in companies across the U.S., and American industry faces challenges from around the globe, the authors' message could not be more important. -Viviana A. Zelizer, author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy -- Viviana Zelizer This important book demonstrates conclusively that employee ownership can be an effective business model, resulting in efficient outcomes. -Jonathan Michie, President, Kellogg College, University of Oxford -- Jonathan Michie Based on a series of national surveys, the authors reckon that some 47% of full-time workers have one or more forms of capital stake in the firm for which they work, whether from profit-sharing schemes (40%), stock ownership (21%) or stock options (10%). About a tenth of Fortune 500 companies, from Procter & Gamble to Goldman Sachs, have employee shareholdings of 5% or more. Almost a fifth of America's biggest private firms . . . have profit-sharing or share-ownership schemes. Some 10 million people work for companies with ESOPs. -Brad DeLong, University of California, Berkeley, and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth -- Brad DeLong The American worker isn't doing so well. . . . Joseph Blasi, Douglas Kruse, and Richard Freeman offer a novel solution. . . . The impulse toward broadly extending property ownership is one that has a long history in America. . . . [E]xpanding employee ownership could be a solution to the problems of stagnating worker compensation and rising income inequality. -Christopher Matthews, Time Magazine -- Christopher Matthews * Time Magazine * There is a depressing familiarity about much of the discussion on what to do about America's widening income inequality. Some remedies are uncontroversial but hard-to-achieve (such as improving education); others are the subject of furious argument (such as more progressive taxation). Debate is heated, but within a fairly narrow set of potential solutions. Once in a while, though, more creative proposals are added to the mix. . . . The Citizen's Share is one of those. The authors show, convincingly, that the logic of citizen capitalism has periodically motivated American politics and business since the Founding Fathers. -The Economist * The Economist * A few years ago, Blasi, Kruse, and Freeman caught people's attention with an intriguing thesis: that a company performs better when owned by its workers . In this book, the authors go a step further. They make the interesting and provocative claim that worker ownership also improves democracy. Readers may disagree with the conclusion, but they will want to understand the argument. -Eric S. Maskin, Nobel laureate in Economics, Harvard University -- Eric S. Maskin This book offers the compelling vision of a better healthier American economy founded on the basic principles of employee ownership and profit sharing. The deep-rooted history of this American vision is elegantly interwoven with the results of modern rigorous research. The Citizen's Share is a wonderfully readable book with an important message that will provoke serious thought and discussion. -Martin L. Weitzman, Professor of Economics, Harvard University. -- Martin L. Weitzman An accessible, and informative, story of government and business support for worker ownership . . . . Spotlights an important area of American economic history. -Library Journal * Library Journal * A model of sober scholarly analysis and impassioned political advocacy. . . . Here is a book on economic policy that might make the Founding Fathers smile -Jonathan I. Levy, author of Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America. -- Jonathan I. Levy This provocative study exposes a long-lost history of successful profit-sharing within U.S. capitalism. Good business (not conscience), the authors argue, holds the promise of a more equal and therefore more democratically organized society. This is an optimistic, but eminently plausible scenario. -Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America -- Alice Kessler-Harris The Citizen's Share provides a thoughtful . . . analysis of the benefits of encouraging greater employee ownership of businesses . . . In seeking to increase employee compensation as well as tax reform, Washington should be thinking hard about how to expand and encourage greater employee ownership and/or revenue sharing. -Dean Zerbe, Forbes Magazine -- Dean Zerbe * Forbes Magazine * The founders . . . agreed that America would survive and thrive only if there was widespread ownership of land and businesses. Professor Joseph R. Blasi and Douglas L. Kruse of Rutgers and Richard B. Freeman of Harvard gathered many of the founders' writings on this topic for their book . . . Copies are currently circulating among congressional staffs in both parties as politicians brace themselves to face what polls show is a rapidly rising concern over economic growth concentrating at the top. -David Cay Johnston, Newsweek -- David Cay Johnston * Newsweek * The proposal . . . stands apart from alternate policy initiatives . . . because it addresses the concentration of wealth and political power at the top. The idea of expanding employee ownership deserves serious consideration. -Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times -- Thomas B. Edsall * New York Times * Citizens should know about The Citizen's Share--it's important. And there is no better trio than Blasi, Freeman, and Kruse to tell them about it. --Alan Blinder, Princeton University -- Alan Blinder America used to be based on broad access to wealth and property. If you want to know more about this tradition, and how to revive it, read this book. -Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century -- Thomas Piketty

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