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Pieces of the Action: Ownership and the Changing Employment Relationship
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
posted on 01.01.2001by Denise M. Rousseau, Zipi Shperling
This essay develops and links two models of ownership: first a composition model of the
dimensions comprising ownership in firms, and a content model specifying the societal, firm, and
individual factors that give rise to workers’ motivation to participate in ownership and
employers’ motivation to share ownership. Ownership comprises financial participation,
including control over residual assets, access to marginal revenues, participation in decision
making, and access to financial information; along with sociopsychological factors including
social standing, social responsibility, and psychological ownership. Firm ownership, across
financial and sociopsychological facets, is increasingly parcelled out among financial investors,
managers and workers. This new distribution of ownership is particularly characteristic of high
technology and start up firms, due to the mobility of highly skilled workers, and their consequent
power in the employment relationship. We specify how societal factors, firm characteristics, and
worker qualities impact the motivation to own and the motivation to share ownership. By
focusing on the shifting power balance of highly mobile workers, this treatment of emerging
ownership practices provides a theoretical basis for understanding the employment relationship
in start ups and high technological firms.