The state of the academic field(s)
Trying to avoid a three-dimensional Venn diagram
TLDR: A quick overview of academic work on employe ownership, perpetual purpose trusts, and more. Plus you get to learn about Pierre Bourdieu!
Background: Mid 21st-Century French Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu was a major contributor to the theory of fields, which might reasonably be viewed as overlapping social games—families, workplaces, neighborhoods, churches, nonprofits, boards, clubs, industries, markets, cities, etc. Even within each of those categories, the overlap isn’t always precise. Think, for example, about being in a large company. Success in one business unit’s “game” might be very different from success in another.
Higher education is a good example of this. Political science is a different game than engineering, and even within political science there are subdivisions—foreign policy, public policy, American political development, etc.
A professor friend of mine asked if I might send him some papers to look at to get up to speed on perpetual purpose trusts. There wasn’t much written on that, I told him; if he wanted to get up to speed, he’d have to look at papers from multiple academic fields. Here’s my best shot:
Employee ownership and worker cooperatives. There are decades of research on employee ownership. The place to begin here is probably The Citizen’s Share by Kruse, Blasi and Freeman. Plus anything written by Corey Rosen.
That link will take you to CLEO, the Curriculum Library on Employee Ownership hosted by The Institute at Rutgers. And you can get up to speed on the latest, greatest research on employee ownership here.
The academics that study worker cooperatives are somewhat distinct from those that study worker cooperatives, and much more international.
Employee ownership trusts and perpetual purpose trusts. Chris Michael, also affiliated with Rutgers, is one of the OG writers on employee ownership trusts. And two recent papers compare them to employee stock ownership plans and worker cooperatives:
“Three Models of Employee Ownership: Worker Cooperative, EOT and ESOP – Overcoming Barriers – Important Choices – Pros and Cons” by Niels Mygind, published in the Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership, also affiliated with Rutgers (PDF)
“The Changing Landscape of Business Succession: How and Why Purpose Trusts Matter” by Susan Gary, in the Ohio State Business Law Journal (PDF)
Alternative ownership. I haven’t found anything peer-reviewed on this front, but the best recent state of the field I’ve seen is Transform Finance’s recent report.
Steward ownership. This phrase is an umbrella term advocated for by mostly European groups, and includes multiple legal forms that owners use to achieve similar ends.
There is also the wider field of employee participation, a longstanding subfield in management scholarship. And of course I’m interested in how these fields overlap with workplace democracy, a very small niche sub(sub?)field in political science that is sometimes most closely associated with labor economics and in Europe, with codetermination.
What else am I missing here, fam?