Drivers and Barriers for Employee Ownership: Why Is the United States in a Positive Circle while Denmark is Not?

Niels Mygind*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

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Drivers and barriers for employee ownership vary between countries because of differences in Politics, Institutions and the Economy (PIE). By analyzing this variation, the purpose of this study is to answer why employee ownership has developed fast in the United States and not in Denmark.

The drivers and barriers for employee ownership are identified from the scientific literature, and the main societal dynamics are identified through the PIE model covering the dynamics between politics, institutional change and the economy. Politics focuses on different social groups influencing the development of institutions driving or hindering employee ownership in the economy.

United States has followed a self-enforcing circle with broad political support of “shared capitalism,” including the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) type of employee ownership. In Denmark, the labor movement rejected worker cooperatives as a main strategy and focused on building up the welfare state. Center-right parties favored employee stocks, but the institutional framework never overcame the barriers for employee ownership.

This is the first study to perform an analysis of politics, institutional change and economic development to explain drivers and barriers for employee ownership and to make a comparison between the development of employee ownership in the United States and Denmark.
TidsskriftJournal of Participation and Employee Ownership
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)42-62
Antal sider21
StatusUdgivet - 2021


  • Employee ownership
  • Shared capitalism
  • Industrial democracy
  • Institutional context for employee ownership
  • USA
  • Denmark