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

Niels Mygind*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

76 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Participation and Employee Ownership
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)42-62
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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

Cite this