Bryson, Alex and Freeman, Richard B. (2010) To join or not to join? Factors influencing employee share plan membership in a multinational corporation. CEP Discussion Papers, CEPDP1001. Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.
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Many firms encourage employees to own company stock through share plans that subsidizethe price at favorable rates, but even so many employees do not buy shares. Using a newsurvey of employees in a multinational with a share ownership plan, we find considerablevariation in joining among observationally equivalent workers and explore the reasons for thevariation. Participation in the plan is higher the greater the potential pay-off from joining theshare plan, which indicates that rational economic calculations affect the decision to join. Butthere is also evidence that psychological factors affect the decision to join. Some nonmemberssay they intend to join in the future, which means they forgo the benefits ofimmediate membership. The proportion of workers who purchase shares varies acrossworkplaces beyond what we predict from worker characteristics. This suggests that coworkerbehavior influences decisions. Indeed, workers say that they pay most attention toother workers and little attention to company HR management in their decision on joining.
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