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Rutgers will study benefits of giving employees a stake in their company

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Rutgers University will study the impact that enabling employees to have a financial stake in their company can have on the success of firms, and will also delve into the evolving social and economic structure of the corporation and the future of American business.

The Rutgers' School of Management and Labor Relations said it has appointed 18 new research fellows "to build a new generation of scholars to study workplace issues and focus on how employees at all levels can share in the benefits of a company's success by considering the relevance of equity and profit-sharing," said Dean Susan J. Schurman in a statement.

More than 17 percent of U.S. workers own some share in the companies where they work, Schurman said. She said the idea of employee stock ownership has been widely disseminated in small businesses and in large corporations, especially high-tech companies like Google.

"Broad-based employee ownership and profit-sharing are generally associated with better firm performance and individual commitment at work with a supportive corporate culture," said Joseph R. Blasi, a sociologist and the J. Robert Beyster professor of employee stock ownership at SMLR. The professorship is part of the school's J. Robert Beyster Fellowship Program, established with a major endowment and series of gifts from J. Robert Beyster and Mary Ann Beyster of the Foundation for Enterprise Development.

By bringing together research fellows who are economists; finance, legal and policy experts; human resource and industrial relations scholars; anthropologists; historians; philosophers; political scientists; psychologists; sociologists; and others, SMLR seeks new interdisciplinary insight on corporations and the roles that workers can play in the business community.

Besides the gifts from the Beysters and the Foundation for Enterprise Development, additional program contributions have been from other foundations, including the Employee Ownership Foundation, and numerous individuals. Rutgers said that with assets of more than $400,000, the fellowship program is one of the largest at Rutgers.

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