FED Symposium Returning to San Diego This Summer

By Anthony Mathews

Scripps Pier, La Jolla, CA

One of the most important efforts underway to influence the future of employee ownership is the effort to expand the attention academic institutions pay to the subject. It is clear that in order for employee ownership to become wider spread in our country it must first become routine in our institutions of higher education. Until we have a population of professionals who recognize and promote the many benefits of employee ownership, we have little hope of getting widespread adoption of the programs.

Over the last several years, there has been an increasing flow of programs and individual efforts in this direction and one that shows great potential is the work of the Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED), a private foundation established by Dr. J. Robert Beyster to promote the concept of broad-based, participative employee ownership and entrepreneurism. The showplace for the efforts of the FED in this area is an annual symposium, first held in 2009 in La Jolla, Calif., at which scholars from all over the country came together to discuss their ongoing research and ambitions for the future. The FED will present a second annual symposium on employee ownership on June 27-30 in La Jolla, Calif., titled Recapitalizing the Economy: Envisioning the Role of Broad Employee Ownership. Proceedings from the 2009 Symposium can be found at http://www.fed.org/advancing-research-beyster-symposium.

This year’s program includes researchers and professors from many respected universities who will report on the progress of more than a dozen significant research projects underway that explore the effect of employee ownership on a variety of measures. They all amount to better, stronger, more sustainable companies as well as changes in the lives of their employees and the owners of the companies.

Presentations this year will include update reports on research on a variety of topics including:

  • Decentralized and collective leadership patterns and their relationship to employee ownership
  • The relationship between ownership structures and innovation and success in MIT’s X-prize
  • The U.S. economic history of broad-based employee ownership and profit sharing
  • Capitalization techniques, business models and incentives in biotech employee ownership
  • Exploring how values of employee ownership fit into high-tech startups
  • How composition and scope of ownership changes over a company’s evolution
  • Systems dynamic model that reflects ownership and human resource management in green technology businesses
  • Effects of broad-based ownership and profit sharing in major U.S. corporations
  • Development of employee ownership teaching programs and curricula
  • Effects of employee ownership on employee attitudes
  • Impacts of employee ownership on clean technologies companies
  • Impact of aligning and bundling equity and work practices with corporate values and culture in San Diego life science companies
  • Psychological processes that motivate behavior under ownership and non-ownership conditions

In addition to the above, attendees will hear about many new projects designed to further explore the role of employee ownership and discuss how these projects can play in the recovery of our economy. These projects are supported by grants from organizations like the FED, the Employee Ownership Foundation and various research sponsors who are fervent in the promotion of employee ownership principles.

As we look to the ongoing re-vitalization of the U.S. economy and the inevitable search for ever expanding revenue resources, there will be nothing more important for the future of employee ownership than the results of research that illustrates its importance to the companies that practice it and to the many fortunate people who work daily to make them successful. For proponents of broad-based employee ownership, no responsibility will be greater than the responsibility to make the case that employee ownership adds more to the economy than it costs, and that, in the final analysis, employee ownership changes lives for the better without taxing the economy.

We�ll report on the key findings from the symposium as well as the directions of new and planned research for the years to come in our next issue. The FED will also be posting the proceedings from the 2010 Symposium in the fall of 2010 on www.fed.org.

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