Does Employee Stock Ownership Work?

Takao Kato, Hideaki Miyajima, Hideo Owan

    Research output: Working paperResearch

    Abstract

    This paper provides novel evidence on the effects of employee stock ownership (ESO), using new panel data on Japanese ESO plans for a highly representative sample of publicly-traded firms in Japan (covering more than 75% of all firms listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange) over 1989-2013. Unlike most prior studies, we focus on the effects of changes in varying attributes of existing ESO—the effects on the intensive margin. Our fixed effect estimates show that an increase in the strength of the existing ESO plans measured by stake per employee results in statistically significant productivity gains. Furthermore, such productivity gains are found to lead to profitability gains since wage gains from ESO plans are statistically significant yet rather modest. Our analysis of Tobin's Q suggests that the market tends to view such gains from ESO plans as permanent. We further find that increasing the stake of the existing core participants is more effective in boosting gains from ESO plans than bringing in more employees into the trust. Reassuringly, our key results are found to be robust to the use of instrumental variables to account for possible endogeneity of ESO plans. Finally, we explore possible interplays between ESO plans and firm characteristics such as ownership structure and firm size/age. First, the positive effects on productivity, profitability, wages and Tobin's Q are found to become larger as the proportion of powerful institutional investors and foreign investors rises, implying that the growing importance of such powerful outside shareholders may be reducing the adverse managerial entrenchment effect of ESO plans. Second, productivity gains from ESO plans are found to be more limited for smaller and younger firms. We interpret the finding as evidence in favor of the institutional complementarity view that ESO plans are an integral part of the Japanese High Performance Work System (HPWS)—a complementary cluster of human resource management practices which are more pervasive among larger and older firms in Japan.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationTokyo
    PublisherRIETI
    Number of pages36
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
    SeriesRIETI Discussion Paper Series
    Number16-E-073

    Keywords

    • Employee stock ownership
    • Group incentive
    • Productivity
    • Tobin’s Q
    • Managerial entrenchment

    Cite this

    Kato, T., Miyajima, H., & Owan, H. (2016). Does Employee Stock Ownership Work? RIETI. RIETI Discussion Paper Series, No. 16-E-073 https://www.rieti.go.jp/jp/publications/dp/16e073.pdf